A rosary of 32 large rudrakshra seeds threaded onto a piece of string. The rudrakshra beads are particularly sacred to Shiva and act as a symbol of this Hindu God. Rudrakshra rosaries are worn by devotees as a symbol of their devotion to Shiva and as with all rosaries, they are used as a counting device to count off the number of prayers recited. Strings of 32 or 64 beads are usually used by devotees of Shiva, while devotees of Vishnu tend to use rosary that contain 108 beads. The dividing lines of each bead can also tell us something about the devotee, as beads divided into five faces are usually worn by Shiva devotees as this is a sacred number for Shiva, while six sided beads are used for the specific devotion to his son Karttikeya (Ganesha’s brother). Rosaries such as these are sold in shops and temple complexes across India and so it is difficult to identify the state they are from. I identify this set as coming from Bengal and Orissa, purely from the collector information.

Object Summary

Museum Number 575/2007/1
Simple Name ornament
Full Name rudraksha prayer beads
Common Name necklace
Production country India
Material “rudraksha” beads (endocarps of Elaeocarpus ganitrus (also listed in some references as E. sphaericus). ; cotton
Collection class Personal ornament
Collection continent Asia
Collection area/region S
Production continent Asia
Production year high pre 1996
Function name aid to prayer