Types of Prayer Beads

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    Orthodox Christian Prayer Beads

    • The Eastern Orthodox Christian Church has a set of beads that consists of 100 knots. These beads, called a "Chokti" are made of wool. They can include 50 or 33 knots. The 33 knots represent the 33 years of the life of Jesus Christ.

    Catholic Prayer Beads

    • Catholic rosary beads--rosary is Latin for "rose garden or rosarium"--have a string of 54 beads plus five. The Roman Catholic rosary includes a silver or gold crucifix and its beads can be glass, quartz, onyx or pearl. There also are full sets of rosary beads, which consist of 150 beads for all of the Psalms and called a psalter. Larger beads divide these beads into decades, or 10 beads that represent events in the life of Christ.

    Islam Prayer Beads

    • Islamic prayer beads, called "Tasbih" or "Tesbih," have 99 or 33 beads. The 99 beads represent the 99 names of Allah. Islamic beads can be made of olive seeds, glass or plastic. Gemstones that are used are usually animal- or plant-based, such as horns, tortoiseshell, coconut and coral. Wood usually comes from an olive tree, rosewood or ebony.

    Hindu Prayer Beads

    • Hindu Brahmists use a set of 27 beads, a factor in the number 108, for the number of desires that must be overcome to reach nirvana. These beads are used to count the mantras or Sanskrit prayers. To Hindus these are called "Japa Malas" and the beads are "malas." Beads are usually made from wood or seeds but some are made from amethysts.

    Buddhism Prayer Beads

    • Buddhists also use a set of 27 beads, like Hindus; these, too, called malas. Beads are usually made of sandalwood. Some stones or seeds of certain plants and trees also can be used. In Tibet, the beads may number 111.

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