What’s the Meaning of Beads?

Charm bracelets are a trend and most fashionistas are sporting unique bracelets made by Pandora and other fashionable jewelry makers. On the other side of the coin, beaded bracelets can be seen on young teens as symbols of friendship- strung together using handmade beads or colorful beads found at craft stores. Whatever the modern interpretation, the meaning of beads is one that is rich in religion and tradition.

 The history and meaning of beads

The word bead comes from old English – bede – meaning prayer. The history of beads go back to Neanderthal times. Humans have always had the love of beads that have been carved from anything imaginable: wood, rocks, bones, teeth, shells, clay, rose petals and glass. Most cultures and religions wore beads on clothing, shoes, ceremonial clothing, rattles, drums, musical instruments, jewelry and religious items.

In addition to using beads as adornment, they are also used in the practice of prayer in most world religions and cultures.  Beads have been used as a source of protection, prayer, wisdom, adornment and to calm the mind, body and soul. The fingers touching each bead in silence or reciting a mantra can create a sense of holiness, calm and well being.  Prayer beads have historically been used by members of various religious traditions and are still used today in religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, Anglican Church, Orthodox Christianity, Sikhism and Baha’i.

Religion aside, beads are great stress relievers. The meditative qualities of beads come in two places: stringing the beads (counting) and touching the finished product (either through prayer or an unconscious touching of the bead). When you are feeling stressed, take a moment to recite a calming phrase and repeat the phrase as many times it takes to go one-round on your bead bracelet.