I made the mala, to the left, out of coral along with clear white crystal for marker beads. Instead of the usual tassel, I just placed the guru bead on it and Spring helped me knot it. She did the two leaves at the end. I think it is a Chinese along with a Tibetan mala. There are some malas that do not have the marker beads but instead all the beads are exactly the same. The mala is not used for decorative purposes. A mantra is decided on for the mala and used just for that particular mala. When meditating with your mala, you repeat the mantra for each bead.
The instructions that follow came from a Mala workshop at the Peace Cafe in Atlanta. The person who taught the workshop was a nun from the Kadampa tradition.
(Of course, instead of using fishing line, you can use any strong thread that is available. The mala Spring helped me with was threaded using a type of Chinese thread that she purchased in Hong Kong and allowed the beautiful leaves to be weaved at the end. I prefer the leaves rather then the tassel at the end, but it is up to you, and if you know how to weave leaves.)
- 104 beads
- 4 marker beads
- 1 Guru bead
- 30-40lb fishing line
- embroidery string
- wire brush
- sewing needle
- clear finger nail polish
- stopper bead (or something that performs the function)
Making a Mala:
- Select beads and count them out (a bowl helps).
- Cut fishing line the length of your arms and put the stopper bead on one end.
- Begin adding beads with six, then a marker bead at the seventh point. Then add 13 more, and a marker bead at the 21st point, 66 beads, a marker bead (at 21 from the other side), 13 beads, a marker bead (7 from the other side), and 6 more beads. Then you will add the Guru bead and pull both ends of the fishing line through it.
Don’t knot it yet!
Making a tassel:
- Wrap embroidery string around three fingers 24 times, leaving 12 inches hanging.
- Tie mala fishing line around embroidery string using 2 double knots.
- Paint knot with finger polish and cut excess fishing line.
- Wrap extra embroidery string around the bottom of the loop tightly 6 times.
- Use needle to thread long end through 3-4 times bringing string up through the center the last time.
- Cut loop and comb fringe with wire brush.
Note: For a smaller mala, use 21 beads total.