Mala 101 – The Anatomy of a Mala
The Parts and Anatomy of a Mala
Let's look at the anatomy of a mala and breakdown the ‘why’ behind how it is put together and its different parts.
Malas are built in an intentional way, with each part of the necklace having its own spiritual and functional representation. We’ll start at the center and work our way around.
The tassel is the cluster of strings that sit at the bottom of the necklace. Each strand of string in the tassel is an extension of the string that binds the necklace together.
As with each part of the mala, the tassel’s significance has multiple meanings. One that resonates with us is that as the strings come together as one to form the tassel, it represents our connection to the divine and to each other. We love the concept of it representing oneness.
The Guru Bead
The Guru Bead is the bead that the tassel attaches directly to. When strung on a necklace, the Guru Bead is often the 109th necklace. The Guru Bead is said to symbolize the Guru from who the student has received a mantra being used or recited, and pay homage to the student-guru relationship.
A fun nod to tradition: if when reciting a mantra, more than 108 repetitions is needed, Hindu and Buddhists will turn the mala around so as not to cross the guru bead.
At Mala Collective, we use authentic Rudraksha seeds and gemstones grown and sourced in Bali. Regardless of seeds or stones being used, each bead, when passed through your fingers during meditation, energizes a mantra being used.
A true sign of a traditionally crafted mala, overhand knotting not only makes the mala stronger, it also provides the perfect space for Japa Meditation – a meditation that uses each bead to count a repetition of a mantra.
You will notice that in counting the number of beads on our malas, that there are 108 consistently. This, friends, is not by accident.
108 is seen to be a sacred number in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Thus, you will find that malas typically will have 18, 27, 54 or 108 beads on them.
The interpretations of the number of beads on each mala are infinite.Much like many traditions around malas, and ideas and ideals of how they should be worn, used, chosen and beyond, we like to encourage finding the meaning that makes most sense to you.
Here are some traditional explanations that we are attracted to:
- There are said to be 108 energy lines that connect and converge to form the heart chakra, and one of those lines is said to be the path to self realization
- Within the Sanskrit alphabet—the ancient script of India—there are 54 letters. Each has a masculine and feminine version – totalling 10
- Both 9 and 12 are said to have spiritual significance in a number of traditions. 9 multiplied by 12 is 108.
We hope you found this article informative and you learned more about your mala!