(My apologies to anyone who's already heard me ask this question on
Has anyone ever run into any *medieval* source that mentions beads
made out of crushed rose petals?
I'm asking because it is a popular modern notion that medieval
rosaries were made of rose-petal beads, and that this is where
rosaries got their name -- both notions being completely unsupported,
as far as I've been able to find.
Apparently there has been little scholarly work on the actual
physical object, namely the *beads* of the rosary or paternoster, and
their materials, manufacture, arrangement, fastening, et cetera.
Most, if not all, scholars seem to be focusing exclusively on the
history of the devotional practice (which is fascinating too, of
course), including the recent and very good _Stories of the Rose:
The Making of the Rosary in the Middle Ages_ by Anne Winston-Allen.
Most of the other citations I've seen that even *mention* the actual
beads of the rosary refer to one book, Eithne Wilkins' _The
Rose-Garden Game_ (1969). I can only say that it's not *quite* as bad
as I remember from reading it many years ago. The text *is* rather
heavily into the "mystical East" and a lot of its historical
statements are simply not referenced; I suspect that means that most
of them are unsupported hand-waving. However it *does* have more
pictures of actual rosaries (and rosary paintings) than I've seen
together in one place anywhere else.
Anyway, I've been unable to find any references to beads made of rose
petals before about 1920, and am still looking.