Hindu and Buddhist prayer beads, malas, generally include 108 counting beads. The mala is marked by a large tassel or ribbon and one guru bead, a reminder to the devotee of the importance of having a spiritual teacher.

108 bead mala
Enlarge 108 Bead Mala

Mantra mala
Enlarge Mantra Mala

Tibetan mala
Enlarge Tibetan Mala

Zen mala
Enlarge Zen Mala

The sequence of counting beads may be punctuated with accent beads of another material. For example, a mala might feature four, equally spaced, smaller beads representing the four virtues of the Buddha's life. Two larger mother and father beads, both representing the Buddha, may also be included.

Photos: Sakura Designs