Posted by: softypapa | March 14, 2008

Vintage Buddhist Prayer Beads – Buddhism Japanese Mala

Mala Prayer Beads Buddhist Buddhism Altar Temple Tokaido Softypapa

Mala Prayer Beads Buddhist Buddhism Altar Temple Tokaido Softypapa

Mala Prayer Beads Buddhist Buddhism Altar Temple Tokaido Softypapa

Mala Prayer Beads Buddhist Buddhism Altar Temple Tokaido Softypapa 


Beautiful string of vintage Buddhist mala prayer beads or shozoiki jyu-zu as they are called in Japanese.  Prayer beads were first introduced into Japan along with Buddhism during the 6th century.  The 1848 woodblock print image included below depicts the famous kabuki actor Okawa Hashizo as the priest Saigyo standing before Mt. Fuji with a string of prayer beads in his left hand.  Japanese prayer beads are used to count devotions and are always carried by Buddhist priests and frequently by lay Buddhists at weddings, funerals and other ceremonial occasions.  Japanese tea houses may also sometimes have a string of prayer beads hanging from the wall as a sign of reverence.  Many Japanese prayer beads are sanctified by being blessed by a priest over a cloud of incense.

About the Listed Item

This vintage strand of Buddhist prayer beads is less than 40 years old.  The beads are made of what appears to be stone (rather heavy) and the entire piece is in fair to good condition with some marks and scratches.  Please read below to learn more about the history and function of Buddhist prayer beads.

Length (approximate): 18.0 inches (46 centimeters)
Weight: 1.1 ounces (31 grams)

Click here to see more prayer beads!
here to see more Buddhist items!
here to see additional items from Japan!

More about Buddhist Prayer Beads

Buddhist prayer beads also known as mala are similar in form and function to worry beads associated with many religions.  Mala are thought to have originated in India around 500 BC as a counting aid for religious pupils who were required to repeat their prayers a specific number of times but who were unable to count.  Mala are used such that one prayer or mantra is recited for each bead.  The counting starts with the guru bead (bead with tassel) which is thought to represent the Buddha and proceeds all the way around the string.  When the guru bead is again encountered the counting may then continue in the opposite direction.  The bead count is commonly interrupted in only two places (besides the guru bead) indicated by slightly smaller beads which are thought to represent mid-level Buddhas and humans on the verge of enlightenment.  Mala, like worry beads the world over, are commonly carried by religious clergy and devoted believers.  The beads are thought to help individuals seeking spiritual focus and are often cited as a source of comfort and peace by those who use them regularly.

item code: R3S2-0004430
ship code: L1650


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