Author Topic: Recent Thoughts About Malas  (Read 4029 times)


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Recent Thoughts About Malas
« on: January 18, 2011, 01:18:09 pm »
Something I posted to MysticRosary - a mail list for prayer beads users and makers....

Some Recent Thoughts About Malas (from a Buddhist perspective).

As a maker of both fine and working Malas, a regular user of Malas and a practicing Buddhist, I've arrived at some ideas that I hope are worth considering in choosing and/or designing a mala for personal use.

Regardless of the practice a Mala is to be used for, it's primary purpose is a counting device.  Following that view, the primary concern in the choice of Mala should address what factors best enable that primary purpose.

Once factor is weight.  A heavier Mala is harder to use than a lighter one, especially if a lot of repetitions are planned.  For serious use, beads made of wood, seeds, plastic and so on are superior to stone beads.

Stretch is another factor.  With extended use the cord that Mala beads are strung on will stretch.  If too much stretch occurs the Mala may become useless and require restringing. A Mala strung with stretch-resistant cord is far better than cord with a lot of stretch.  If possible Malas should be strung with either hemp or linen cord as these appear to be the most stretch-resistant.  Other cords, such as cotton, silk, nylon, rayon and so on will work, but can stretch rapidly.  Metal beading wire deserves a mention.  Braided stainless steel beading wire is very popular and is very resistant to stretching.  If extra heavy-duty use is expected metal is a viable option. I, personally, don't like the esthetic of metal wire and generally prefer hemp.  Weight is a factor here as well.  It seems that heavier beads stretch cord quicker than lighter beads.

Strength is a major consideration. A Mala cord should be able to stand up to rigorous use without breaking, but sooner or later all cords will break. A Mala stung on two or more cords can give the user advanced warning of breakage without a complete breakage that will scatter and loose beads.  Most Malas come strung on only one cord, but they can and perhaps should be restrung with two or more.  Knotted beads are also an option here, especially if expensive beads such as Lapis, pearl of ivory are being used.  Knotted are pretty strong and have the added benefit that if the cord should break, only one bead will come loose.

Then there is the matter of general ease of use.  A Mala that is difficult to use is nearly useless.  Beads should slide over the cord and through the fingers smoothly and easily.  The size of the beads should fit the hand well.  8mm beads seem to work best for most people although people with smaller hands might consider 6mm beads instead.  people with big hands might consider 10mm.  Regardless, a Mala should be tried out before purchase whenever possible.

There are of course other considerations when buying or making a Mala.  Some folks believe that certain stones have a certain properties that will enhance their use.  Certain materials are thought offer increased accumulations of merit or are of particular value for certain practices.  These considerations are legitimate and if there is a particular need, such as a Lapis Mala for Medicine Buddha practice or crystal for Avalokiteshvara/Chenrezig sadhanas, then by all means consider that.  However, it's been my experience, that such consideration are not as important for every-day use as matters of strength, stretch, weight and ease of use.

Choose your Mala wisely and may all beings benefit from your practice.

Offline Caz

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Re: Recent Thoughts About Malas
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 01:35:30 pm »
Thanks for that GG that was very thoughtful  :blush:

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