The History Path of Kombolói
The History Path of Kombolói (2/8)

In our attempt to specify the origins and the reason for the existence of bead rosaries, we become travellers and set out on a long journey both in time and distance. Since ancient times, humans from various countries and of various religions have used beads strung on a cord to count the prayers addressed to their gods. Ancient Greeks were among the first people that invented these objects and have mainly used them during the Eleusinian Mysteries. Buddhist monks have also used similar intricate objects, which they used to hang around their neck as amulets, when they were not used for prayer. This practice is of course very familiar to both Orthodox Christian monks and Catholic monks, who wear long chaplets around their necks, which they often remove to count their numerous prayers. These objects are encountered in many different peoples and religions around the world. Despite the differences in appearance and materials, they all have served the exact same purpose, namely to help believers count their prayers correctly. The Greek kombolói, however, is an evolved version of the Muslim rosary. Turks, unlike other people that wear rosaries around their necks or wrists, used to hold them in their hands and fiddle the beads with their fingers. These rosaries were talismans made of high quality materials, such as amber or admixtures thereof with other materials. For this reason, "playing" the komboloi’s velvety beads generated (and still generates today) a very pleasant and relaxing feeling on one’s fingertips. What is more, these rosaries often indicated the social or financial status of the Turkish conquerors in Greece, which is why many rosaries made of pure amber found their way to Greece. Nonetheless, this was not the only reason why people of the East cherished amber, men liked to hold amber rosaries in their hands, and women wore ornamental amber beads around their bare necks. The second very important reason is that they have discovered the therapeutic properties of this gemstone. Beyond the positive energy amber was thought to transmit, not only oriental people but also ancient Greeks recognised and thought highly of the healing power, either therapeutic or preventive, of amber against various diseases (mostly of the thyroid gland). In the East, it was used for an additional reason, namely to promote fertility. It is said that when a King was getting married, they would make a traditional confection, to which they added Kahraman amber powder, and would then offer it to the bride on the wedding day. It was believed that this would help her give birth to the new king's successor.

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