Prayer Beads

Rosary , Prayer beads, Komboloi, Tesbih, Worry beads

Not only in Islam, but also in many other religions, prayer beads have played an important role. In the past, the most sought after rosaries or tesbih, as Muslim rosaries are called, were made by Istanbul craftsmen and sold to buyers throughout the world. They were made from almost every imaginable material.

The best tesbih makers became famous for their skill at carving the beads. Drilling the holes through them is one of the most difficult parts, the finer the hole, the more skill being required. Tesbih beads are made using a small lathe, simple but. Although the best tesbih have beads of equal size, some have beads graduated in size, threaded from largest to smallest. In the past they were always strung on silk thread, but today nylon thread dyed to the correct colour is sometimes used instead. In Ottoman times rock crystal beads were preferred in summer for their coolness to the touch, and for the play of light diffracted by the facets. These had silver tassels.

Not only Muslims, but Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindu Brahmanists use prayer beads. Catholic rosaries with 64 beads and a crucifix are part of the clerical garb. Although Islamic prayer beads usually have either 99 or 33 beads, mystic sects sometimes used 500 or 1000 bead tesbih with very large beads.