An interesting conversation came up in a group I belong to; the subject of prayer beads. While I don't pray, I have always thought prayer beads were very pretty, and hold a sacredness to them that always made me want a set.
Almost very major religion has its own prayer bead design. Except Protestant Christians. Not sure why, except maybe as a "fuck you" to the Catholics when they broke away centuries ago.
The Catholic Rosary Beads are some of the most beautiful I've seen. Some day I intend to buy a set.
The Catholic Rosary provides a physical method of keeping count of the number of Hail Marys said. The fingers are moved along the beads as the prayers are recited. By not having to keep track of the count mentally, the mind is more able to meditate on the mysteries. A five decade rosary contains five groups of ten beads (a decade), with additional large beads before each decade. The Hail Mary is said on the ten beads within a decade, while the Our Father is said on the large bead before each decade. A new mystery is meditated upon at each of the large beads. Some rosaries, particularly those used by religious orders, contain 15 decades, corresponding to the traditional 15 mysteries of the rosary. Both five and 15 decade rosaries are attached to a shorter strand, which starts with a crucifix followed by one large, three small, and one large beads before connecting to the rest of the rosary.
The Buddhist Japa Mala Beads are always so exotic looking, another set I intend to acquire some day. Mala beads or prayer beads represent an ancient meditative tool.