medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Yes, Tom, they are called "worry beads."
Worry beads (Greek komboloi) are used throughout
Greece. They are "bracelet" length and supposed
to be a stress relief device. You can certainly see them
twirl rather rapidly if  a conversation is getting
heated.
 
Worry beads can be very simple or quite expensive;
I've seen pearl and garnet worry beads as well as
amber or wood versions. Jewelry shops carry them,
as do street stall vendors. There is even a komboloi
museum in Nauplion. Actually, they are found
in use throughout what was the Ottoman Empire...
which, of course, includes Islamic countries.
 
Strings of beads as mnemonic aids are ancient.
Finding the origins of stress-relief beads or a
possible connection with  Islamic prayer beads
may be a chicken and egg problem.
 
regards,
 
risa
 
 
 
 
 
> Having lived in Eastern Europe & India and frequented many tea stalls
> and coffee houses, I can make the observation that some of the beads
> in question may not be religious.  Many men had (have) a loop of beads
> with a tail, which they usually twirl around their thumb but also do
> other fascinating movements while in conversation.  They appear to be
> an almost required social hand prop in some places.  They were (are?)
> called "worry beads" and have no religious connotations.  At least
> that is what I was told when I was there.
> yrs, tom ault
>
> On Mon, 27 Sep 2004 08:49:26 -0500
>   Christopher Crockett <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and
> >culture
> >
> >From: Chris Laning <
[log in to unmask]>
> >> Can anyone refer me to someone who would know about the history of
> >Islamic prayer beads?
> >> Until recently the best documentation I could find was a couple of
> >
> >> 16th-century Safavid Persian paintings showing people with what are
> >clearly prayer beads. _Beads of Faith_ does have a manuscript
> >illustration which it says is a "12th century Mogul painting" showing
> >an Islamic "saint" in India with his beads, but apparently the
> >manuscript is in private hands (?) which means I have no way to check
> >the date.
> >
> >> Suggestions?
> >
> >knowing nothing whatever about the subject, i am free to speculate
> >that the
> >chances of the Islamic practice *not* being influenced by the much
> >more
> >ancient Hindu and Budhist traditions are pretty slim.
> >
> >c
> >
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