“Mala” means ‘garland’ - an idea more than 3,000 years old. This little collection of artisan beads, earth stones and artifacts from the natural world is meant to hang on a door or wall, in a very ancient tradition of welcoming the good and warning the evil that may come.
Each element adds symbolic meaning, starting with the one of a kind stoneware clay bar holding the piece together - it represents the “Pillar of Heaven” holding the vault of Sky above Earth.
In ancient Crete, the Bull-man was the Guardian of all the animals of Earth, Sea and Sky. The elephant bead represents land animals, the owl stands for the Bird of the Sky and the spiral shell stands for the Sea Creatures. (Bull man as well as the gorgeous ceramic bar bead are both the work of my friend Steph Brouwers of Vladthebatsceramics).
Antique and modern clay beads from South Africa symbolize the earth fertilized by Rain.
Each of the beads has a meaning: together they tell a story in the order they are strung. Some are old and have lived in other pieces; some are one of a kind artisan works in a miniature size. Most have traveled far, representing distant lands and ancient truths, and all were carefully chosen to be a part of this talisman.
(The ancient owl bead, reminiscent of ancient Greek imagery, is by Foxpaws; the spiral shell by Petra Carpreau of Scorched Earth in Linton, UK; the lovely cross-patterned bead is from the hands of Lorna Oosthuisen of Capetown, South Africa, whose work can be found at Balelaceramics.)