Beading Across the Continent

May 02, 2009

I always enjoy seeing products, but there is one bead in particular that I am particularly excited to see arrive in the store this summer. I hope that by giving you all a brief introduction to Rudraksha beads, you’ll anticipate their arrival as much as I do!

I love beautiful beads, but what I love even more are beads that are both beautiful and cultural. A couple of years ago I found an example of a Hindu rosary with Rudraksha beads at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. As a student of art and religion at the time, I began researching the history of the Rudraksha. The Rudraksha bead is a natural seed from the Rudraksha tree that grows in Nepal. Hindu monks have worn these beads for centuries and put faith in the bead’s mystical powers. While some claims in favor of the beads’ powers are hard to swallow, the medical community is still on the fence when it comes to their healing properties. For the non-Hindu (like myself) a fascination with Rudraksha is born out of a curiosity and respect for other cultures. Although it is just a bead, for me it was a catalyst towards learning more about the Hindu religion and developing a greater understanding of Eastern cultures. So, for a little bead, it can have quite an impact!

Someone interested in buying these beads should become familiar with the mukhi system of measuring in the bead’s properties. The Rudraksha is a very wrinkly seed, similar to a peach pit, with many sections, like slices of an orange, called mukhi. Generally, the greater the number of mukhi, the more valuable the bead. One can find various charts that outline the specific properties of each mukhi.

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