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Post by hope » 27 Jul 2018 14:37

Worry beads or 'komboloi' or 'kompolio' is a string of beads manipulated with one or two hands and used to pass
time in Greek and Cypriot culture. Unlike the similar 'prayer beads' used in many religious traditions, worry beads
have no religious or ceremonial purpose.

Komboloi beads should be strung on a cord, preferably made of silk. Today it is common to find beads on metal
chains, but enthusiasts believe this is merely a passing trend. Chains are considered categorically unorthodox as
it deprives the komboloi of its traditionally authenticity and has the added disadvantage of wearing the beads<
away by 'filing' them down with use.
In addition to the requisite silk cord, other characteris features of the komboloi are the papas and the founda.
The papas (which literally means 'priest' in Greek) is the single bead that is larger than the rest whose style is
often altogether different from the others. It's place is at the end of the loop where the ends are joined together.
The founda is the tassel tied to the end of the string behind the papas. Devotees believe that much of a komboloi
charm is in its founda. The simple tassel is soft and silky and plays an important role as a stress reliever.
Although it is a simple embellishment, it is impossible to think of the traditional komboloi without it. In bygone
days the founda was rich and dense. The work of the tassel maker was so revered that it was considered not merely
a profession, but an art form in its own right. Stroking the founda evokes a sweet serenity in the depths of your
The standard number of beads of a komboloi is 33 which some people believe signifies the
number of years Jesus lived on earth. Others maintain that the number corresponds to the first knotted string
for prayer with the monk Pahomiou. There is also a third version which relates the komboloi originates in the
Muslim tradition in which prayer beads originally numbered
in recalling the names or attributes of Allah.

By the way of abbreviation, the number was divided by 99 by 3 to the the standard string now comprises 33 beads. This number has prevailed for practical
reasons and thus each larger beads 'counts' for three Allah's attributes. Greeks refer this larger bead as the papas
which for the Muslims represents Allah himself.


Anthimou Gazi's Greek dictionary published in Athens in 1839
sites an interesting verb: Kombeo-kombo. The verb is defined as: 'sound, ringing, especially sound emanating from
terracotta or metal objects when one collides with another '. If one assumed that the affinity between the words
kombeitai and komboloi is a coincidence and that sound - kombos - the beads make 'when one collides with
another' no coincidence at all because the komboloi is also music..Literally and metaphorically, as Elias Petropoulos3
writes in his book Rebetilka Tragoudia:4 'the komboloi is also an accompaniment to the baglama.5 The musician
held his komboloi from its tassel in his left hand which hung from a button hole of his clothing while he tapped
the beads rhythmically against his wine glass.
Some old - school folk singers may still be observed in this practice.

The sound of the Komboloi is its voice. 'Don't bang the beads' as the well-known folk song says, but not for the
reason implied in the lyrics6. Rather it is because beads are made of stone, Amber, coral, bone, horn, ebony,
etc., and one must play them gently and quietly in order really to be able to hear what they are saying.

The soul of the Komboloi - it's voice - is the music of its beads, whatever their shape, whether flat or irregular,
translucent or opaque, made of stone, gems, wood, amber, bone, or even from olive pips, or carob. Beans.
Charm or adornment, science or superstition, through the ages beads have been used for religious, aesthetic and
practical purposes.


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