Why we make objects, what purpose they serve, the origin of a concept - all of this interests me. The above book is one of my favorites - I have had it for years and refer to it often. Awhile back I started researching rosary beads. I had read in another book, A Natural History of The Palette, how tied knots in a rope were used to communicate within Native American tribes. This made me think of how the touching of an object, in this case rope with knots, is used for communication. Although prayer beads not used to communicate between two people, the idea of touching something tangible intrigued me. The tangible is needed for many reasons - guidance, memory, nurture, symbol, class status, control.
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Notes from the book:
"Rosary" - fromt he Latin rosarium, "rose garden"- over time came to mean any grouping of similar things (such as beads on a string). Practice, reciting - quantity important. Knotted strings a memory aid for reciting - repetition of prayer believed to increase efficacy in early religions. People in all cultures devised memory aids - stringed pits, sharks teeth, fragments of bones of a beloved deceased. Wealthy - precious stones, gold nuggets. Rosary - reciting a certain number of prayers could limit your days in purgatory.