General information

Like fashion, methods of worship evolve and change over time.  With changes in ritual and custom come changes to the instruments of devotion. All of our prayer beads are based on extant originals or visual examples. Details about the original we’ve copied is contained in the description for each item.
Glossary of terms used in our descriptions:

  • ‘Beads’ are the main beads in the paternoster or rosary
  • ‘Gauds’ are the larger beads on the strand
  • ‘Knop’ beads are the large beads used at the end
  • ‘Crystal’ beads are crackled glass which looks like rock crystal
  • ‘Walnut’ beads are dark brown wood
  • ‘Bone’ is natural ox bone
  • ‘Silver’ and ‘gold’  refer to colour rather than metal used

Evidence for multi and parti-coloured cords and tassels exist in the paternosters in the Hedwig Codex (1353) and Mendelschen und Landauerschen Hausbücher (1388) which have particoloured tassels, and the rock crystal and silver rosary in the Salzburg Cathedral Museum which has a red, gold and green tassel 1400 - 1500).

Although they do occur on rare occasion, it's unusual to see a cross before about 1500; however the tassel has a long tradition as a terminal on prayer beads and were symbolic of 'wiping away the tears of sin or sorrow'.  Few prayer beads retain their original cord, so it is impossible to determine how they were originally strung, and if they had tassels. I have added tassels to the terminal beads on some designs, based on visial and extant evidence such as:

  • The 16 bead paternoster of gold and lapis lazuli in the Salzburg Cathedral Museum has a tassel terminal on the knop bead (1395-1401)
  • The rock crystal and silver rosary Salzburg Cathedral Museum has a tassel instead of a cross (1400 - 1500)
  • A tassel terminal on the knop bead of a rosary  (Rodrigo de Osona the Younger, "The Adoration of the Magi", ca. 1500) 
  • A tassel terminal on the knop bead if the rosary held by the Christ child (Ambrogio Bergognone, Madonna and Child, c.1500-23, Rijksmuseum) 
  • A tassel terminal on the knop bead of the rosary held by the sitter (Bartholomäus Bruyn the Elder, Woman with Rosary, 1542)

All rosaries, chaplets and paternosters are individually hand made by Gwen and as such are one of a kind items.    Although it is unlikely that a style can be duplicated exactly, it may be possible to create something similar. Please contact us with your needs and we'll do our best to help.

 


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This product was added to our catalog on Saturday 27 September, 2008.