Wind chimes are like Marmite – you love them, or you hate them. I personally love them, from the light tinkling sound of metal ones to the deep sonorous sounds of wood or bamboo, and I admit to being one of those irritating people who, on seeing a display of different ones, just have to touch them all to listen to their ‘music’. A good friend bought me one made of bamboo – he has since passed away, but the chimes will always evoke fond memories of him whenever the wind catches them.

Others seem to hate the sound, finding the unharmonious sound intrusive and irritating - I recently read a report from a woman who said that a neighbours’ 3ft metal chimes drive her so crazy she has to wear earplugs at night, so perhaps some consideration should be made before hooking any up on your porch!

Early wind chimes

The earliest known wind chimes date back to 3000 BC in China, where they were initially made of pottery, bone, or shell. More modern versions, crafted from metal and with specific sounds in mind, made their appearance around 1100 BC. Eventually, they spread to reach the rest of the world.

By 2000 BC the wind chime had been developed independently along the shores of the Mediterranean and was being cast in bronze by the ancient Egyptians. However evidence exists that wind chimes had a more practical use as well - digs in Bali, Indonesia show that farmers used the sound of wind chimes and wind clappers to scare birds and other animals from their cultivated fields.

Modern use of wind chimes is mostly for decorative purposes, and it is thought that wind chimes help enhance the mind/body/spirit connection, bringing a sense of peace and well being. It is believed that wind chimes can help bring balance and harmony to your garden and home, and they are often used in Feng Shui – to maximise the flow of chi or your life’s energy. High quality meditation chimes hung at differing heights will produce noticeably different louder or clearer tones. They can be made of metal or wood and in shapes such as rods or tubes. Other materials to be included could be glass, bamboo, shells, stones, earthenware, porcelain or even other exotic items such as silverware.

Feng shui

Feng shui recommends chimes with 6, 7, 8 or 9 hangings which have to be installed near the front door. In case the chime is fixed somewhere inside, sufficient airflow has to be ensured so that the pipes sway and catch music, with the resonance and vibration of the sound thought to release stress and emotional blockages in the body and calm the mind, thereby expanding conscious awareness and connection with spirit.

The main use of a wind chime in ancient times was to keep away evil spirits, and they were often hung in temples to achieve that result. Wind chimes were considered religious objects that were believed to attract good spirits and drive away evil ones. The Buddhists especially revered wind bells and hung them by the hundreds from the eaves of shrines, pagodas, temples, and in caves.

World record

Here’s a fun fact - the largest wind chime ever made according to Guinness World Records is 12.8m long and consists of five large metal tubes, which are suspended 14.94m from the ground. It was made by Jim Bolin in Casey, Illinois, USA, on 15 December 2012.

But if you are thinking of decorating your garden with one, it doesn’t have to be that big! Metal wind chimes in the garden should apparently be hung in the west, north or north-west. Best is west they say for attracting good luck in the lives of children and assisting them in bringing honour to the family. Wooden wind chimes are best suited in the east, south-east and south, bringing growth to the residents when hung in the east, bringing money when hung in the south-east, and attracting fame when placed in the south. Take your pick!

To my mind, they are lovely to listen to, and hanging in your fruit trees might just keep the birds away from your fruit!


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan