The History Path of Kombolói
The History Path of Kombolói (3/8)

Muslim rosaries feature 99 beads representing the 99 names of Allah. Nevertheless, such a rosary is too large and expensive. Its beads have been therefore reduced to 33. When the pious prayed, they counted the set of beads three times, one by one, in order to complete the full number of prayers. Once, a Muslim owner of a large and rare collection of rosaries revealed the following piece of information to me: He claimed that the number 33 is important for Muslims because it represents the years of Christ's life on earth and continued by saying that Muslims also recognise the existence of Jesus Christ. These rosaries featured smaller beads (stoppers) that separated every 11 beads and embellished the rosary nicely. Besides serving aesthetics, these beads more importantly served a functional purpose: They represented a point where a believer could pause praying for a while without losing count, or alternatively, offered a way to verify that the believer had stopped at the correct prayer and had counted correctly up to that point. All rosary beads are strung on a cord that holds the beads tightly one next to the other. This arrangement is very functional for counting prayers. Muslims would hold only one bead side (instead of both as is the case with Kombolói holders), would push the beads downwards one by one using their thumb and would continue counting as they move upwards. They started and ended at a very intricate piece called Allah ("priest's head", papás or thireós in Greek). This piece was more elongated and resembles a mosque’s dome. The rosary ended in an elaborate tassel right above the "priest's head". Greeks were charmed by the appearance and touch of Turkish rosaries and adapted them to their own culture. This is how the Kombolói was born.

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