Bronze discs for ritual purposes from antiquity
There is evidence of a gong-like instrument from Greece dating back to the 8th century BC. It was called the echeion. It was used to announce the thunder of the gods and the climax of a ritual ceremony. The echeion was also used in Eleusis and Sparta for death rituals. Plutarch also warmed “bronze drums” used by the Parthian armies to intimidate their enemies in the field.
The earliest possible appearance of the gong was in the Bronze Age between the end of the 3rd millennium and the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, when weapons and tools were made of bronze. Finds show bronze shields in this context. The beginning of the Bronze Age in Greece was around 3000-2800 BC. In East Asia it was only around 1900 BC.
In the West, the Romans used the gong and other metal discs (discus = disc) as signalling instruments. A round gong from the first or second century AD was found in Wiltshire, England. Christ was found in Wiltshire, England.
In the Bible, the gong appears in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: ( I Corinthians 13, 1): “If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
The word gong was first used in Europe in the 16th century. It comes from the Indonesian for their original gong, which they called bonang or bonang-bonang in the Mehrzal. Dutch colonialists in Indonesia overdubbed this with Gom-Gom which phonetically became Gong-Gong and eventually Gong.
Interestingly, in Indonesian the gong was sometimes called cakram. This word comes from Sanskrit (chakra) and means wheel. In yoga, we also call the energy centres along the spine chakra.