Tibet, early 19th century; mother of pearl, coral, ivory, silver alloy, copper alloy; 21 3/4 x 2 1/8 x 1/2 in.; The Rubin Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Anne Breckenridge Dorsey, C2012.49.
In Tibetan Buddhism, different recitation practices often employ malas made of specific materials. No doubt because of his pure and pristine nature, the four-armed Avalokiteshvara usually holds a crystal mala. Therefore, white or crystal prayer beads are commonly used in the Shadakshari Lokeshvara practice. However, because they symbolize Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment, seeds of the bodhi tree (ficus religiosa) are appropriate for any practice. This photograph shows a string of bodhi seed prayer beads.