This is a fairly well-known craft technique that I associated with the 19th
and early 20th centuries. Although I'm sorry not to be able to recall a
reference, I've seen articles in places like The Mother Earth News. Check
contemporary books and articles that tell about "old-fashioned" crafts.
My understanding is that one simply soaked dried rose petals in water and
rolled them into beads. I've not been able to get this to work. Nor has a
friend who's a weaver. If you find out more, let me know, as I've a large
collection of dried rose petals collected partly for this purpose. [They're
also useful for neighborhood dog and cat funerals, where it's usually
comforting for the bereaved owner if one shows up with lots of incense, and
rose petals to sprinkle on the deceased household pet as it's laid to rest in
the yard. In some of the earliest stone age burials (of people, not cats or
dogs), rose petals were sprinkled on the corpse. So I guess roses are
In a message dated 1/10/01 12:48:34 AM Eastern Standard Time, [log in to unmask]
> 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.
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> Reply-To: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
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> From: Chris Laning <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Rose petal beads?
> To: [log in to unmask]