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Beautiful beads

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The traditional strings of beads combine beauty with piety

Photo by Ahmed Al Malky

Photo by Ahmed Al Malky

One of the subtler sounds that can be heard around Cairo are the soft clicks and whispered words that accompany the age-old tradition of prayer beads.

Most strung prayer beads, or sebha, that people carry around contain 33 beads, but longer ones, comprised of 66 or even 99 beads, exist. The prayer beads are strung together in a loop, with a short straight part which serves as the beginning, when used for praying. There are many ways the sebha are used; some people employ them after each prayer time while others carry them around all day and use them as a tool to keep up a continuous stream of piety and reflection.

As with anything else, outward manifestations of religion are sometimes just that, and it is no different with prayer beads: a clicking bead does not a good person make.

For some, the beauty of the many different materials used to make the sebha, varying from precious and semi-precious stones, to glass and seeds, is reason enough to purchase one and carry it around.


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