A Mala is a string of prayer beads commonly used in Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism for the spiritual practice of japa, which is the meditative repetition of a mantra or divine name. Japa is most commonly performed while seated in a meditative posture, and may be spoken out loud or within the reciter's mind. The main body of a mala contains 108 beads, which is a religiously significant number. They are used for keeping count while performing japa. Though the beads of a mala can be made from many different materials, they are sometimes made from a human skull, as is the case with this beautiful piece.
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