The many names of prayer beads: rudraksha beads, malas and more

October 18, 2010

What are beads for? That’s a simple question that we may not consciously think of very often. I personally prefer my beads to be more beautiful than useful 🙂 But one way they’ve been consistently used over the centuries is as prayer beads.

You may know about rosaries, but here are a couple more kinds of prayer beads you might want to be familiar with:

Rudraksha beads Rudraksha beads — this is a natural-material bead, made from the seed inside the fruit of a tree in India. Rings & Things sells both small and large rudrakshas. We’re told that traditionally, people talk about “how many faces” or segments these beads have. Some say the number of faces relates to the particular spiritual powers the rudraksha has; numbers from 1 to 108 have been reported. Interestingly, there are 108 rudraksha beads on a mala, which leads us to…

Malas are prayer necklaces, used very much like rosaries to help a person keep track of prayers being said. (This is mostly in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions.) Malas are made with any of several varieties of beads, including rudrakshas. Another mala bead that I’ve been really impressed by are Sandalwood mala beads sandalwood beads, as fragrant as the wood they’re made from. Rosewood mala beads Rosewood mala beads are pretty too, with a rich dark red luster.

…and the great thing is, they make wonderful jewelry of all kinds, for everyone.

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  • Dave Robertson October 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    PS, plenty of wood beads make nice prayer necklaces. Think of “red” wood beads, for instance…
    — Dave at Rings & Things