With their bulbous shape and pitted texture, Mali Wedding Beads have become somewhat of a vintage fashion staple in the Western world – but did you know, they actually serve a similar purpose to the Catholic Rosary? The indigenous people of Mali, South of Niger are a resourceful minority, and have been utilizing African trade beads for many centuries, to serve both ritualistic, and rites of passage purposes – but such beads have also become resemblant and instrumental, in the naturalistic faith of these tribes-people.

Take a look at our own strung Mali Wedding Beads here at the Bead Chest. Do you notice anything unique in the manner they are strung? Unlike some African trade beads, Mali Wedding Beads tend to be restrung by African tribes-people in a very specific way. Both the number of beads, and color co-ordination can have very specific connotations, depending upon the tribal faith. Beads strung in this manner have come to be referred to as “chaplets”, and while modern understanding of this term usually associates it with the Catholic Rosary, it actually serves to describe any kind of “prayer beads” strung in a specific way. Take the “Chaplet of the Divine Mercy”, an oft used prayer string within the Catholic faith. The beads are divided into five “decades” or sections, each resembling specific passages or notions from the Holy Bible. Similarly, the chaplets used within the Islam faith (which is widespread throughout Africa) is used to count recitals from the Holy Koran.

While Islam is most definitely a prominent faith within Africa, many tribes still hold their own beliefs, imparted through ancestors and transcending hundreds, or thousands of years. The most common belief is that of Naturism – every living object bearing a spirit, or containing an aspect of the spirit of a “God”. Gods and Goddesses hold esteem for any number of reasons – they were perhaps great warriors, healers or preachers.

In the same way modern faiths have been implemented, the fables of such prolific entities have been passed down over many generations. Symbolism also takes precedence over the written word, which is why Mali Wedding Beads found use as a chaplet, or prayer necklace. Each bead resembles a particular spirit, ancestor or incantation; color also resemblant of specifics such as the earth, wind or air. There is no set model for a Mali Wedding Bead chaplet, since the indigenous beliefs of each tribe tend to be wholly unique to the next.

Now you know how Mali Wedding Beads have come to assist in the daily prayer rituals of modern African tribes, perhaps you'd like the chance to create your own chaplet? Check out our stunning strings of Mali Wedding Beads – who knows, you could actually be purchasing a ready-made prayer necklace!!