Malas or Buddhist prayer beads, are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra, prayer or affirmation.  They typically consist of 108 beads separated by silk knots and finished with a decorative tassel.  While there are many explanations for the number 108 some of our favorites include:

  • Harshad number: 108 is a Harshad number, which is an integer divisible by the sum of its digits (architect = math nerd)

  • Desires and Delusions: Humans are said to have 108 earthly desires and 108 delusions or forms of ignorance

  • Time: Some say there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.

  • Astrology: In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108. 

  • Astronomy: The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.

  • 8 extra beads: In doing a practice of counting the number of repetitions of the mala, 100 are counted as completed. The remaining are said to cover errors or omissions. (hey, we all make mistakes)

To commission a one of a kind mala, please contact Madelaine at

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