Prayer beads are commonly used by members of major world religions such as Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, in order to count the repetitions of prayers, devotions and chants. These may similarly be used for relaxation, during meditation, as well as when seeking protection from negative energy. For each religion, the number of beads tends to vary, as well as the number of prayer counts. Prayer beads are said to have certain psychological, physical and metaphysical effects on those who use them, aside from enabling them to effortlessly keep count of the number of said prayers. When able to keep track of prayers using prayer beads, devotees are likewise better able to focus more attention on the actual prayer itself.
Tuareg beads originate from the nomadic Tuareg people of North Africa. Tuareg beads are created by skilled Tuareg bead makers who pass the knowledge on to future generations, just as their forefathers have been doing for over a thousand years. These beads are unique and high quality and used to create exquisite jewelry items. Some common items crafted include crosses made using the ancient lost wax technique of bead making. Here, softened wax is shaped and applied in a clay mold which is then fired using a goat skin bellows. The basic Tuareg bead cross can then be shaped, engraved and thereafter polished to create an awe-inspiring jewelry item.
Originally found in West African countries such as the Ivory Coast, boule beads are made from brass and strung to produce beautiful jewelry. Boule beads were part of a family tradition of bead making, with tools and techniques being passed on from generation to generation. The Hausa of West Africa were particularly known to dominate the bead trade as they traveled extensively to locate beads in villages, modify them and sell them to both local and foreign merchants. These beads were originally used to make ornaments such as necklaces and bracelets that would serve as symbols of power, wealth and status in society.
Photos courtesy of Patricia Hiss – Patrician Crafts – http://www.patriciancrafts.etsy.com/
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