These three strands of prayer beads are representative of the cultures in which they were produced. The long mother of pearl strand of 108 beads has the characteristic two counters usually attached to the prayer beads of Tibetan Buddhists. Its exquisite red coral separator beads and ivory guru bead are complemented by red silk tassels and testify to the refined aesthetic preferences of its previous owner, a princess of Derge in eastern Tibet.
The short garnet strand with jade separator and guru beads is cleverly divided so that the 21 garnet beads can be used to count special mantras that require 21 recitations, while the total number of beads, 25, can be used for other mantras and larger numbers of accumulations. A single silver counter with a curved knife stopper, favored by Mongolian Buddhists, also suggests that this set’s owner may have been a practitioner of Highest Yoga Tantra.
Another short strand of beads made of 16 pressed medicine pellets wrapped in bright red silk is a distinctively Chinese string of beads that combines medicinal properties with aesthetic appeal. Its 3 green turquoise separator beads and a guru bead with a finely braided endless knot decoration add vivid colors to the brilliant red of the beads.