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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Bleil

Beads, 8 Random Facts

By Cynthia M. Bleil of Mt. Cynthos Beadwork


While doing research for my last blog post about the appeal of beads (, I discovered some interesting facts about beads. Maybe you are already aware of this information. If so, I applaud you for being well informed and encourage you to add what you know in the comments. If this is news to you, know you are not alone. There is so much to learn about beads and their uses.

1. Waist Beads

These are strings of beads tied around the waist, meant to stay on until the string breaks. Originating in Western Africa in the 1500’s, waist beads for some women who wear them, have cultural and individual significance. There’s a resurgence in popularity of waist beads by women in the UK and the U.S. more for beauty and the maintenance of weight than for spiritual, cultural, or ceremonial uses.

For more information I found this blog helpful:

2. The Beads Task in Psychology

There exists a “Beads Task” that psychologists use to determine a patient's tolerance for uncertainty as well as a “jumping to conclusions” bias. In the test there are 2 jars with different ratios of 2 colors of beads. One jar will have, for example, 15 % of one color and 85% of another color, in the second jar the colors are reversed. The participant/patient is asked to determine from which jar a particular series of beads were drawn. How this task is executed gives the psychologist information they can use toward diagnosing and treating some mental illnesses.

3. Mala Beads

A String of 108 beads used to aid meditation and prayer. Originating in India and used by people practicing Hinduism and Buddhism.

This article in Tricycle gives a history of mala beads from the Buddhist perspective.

4. Beads in Physics

Beads are used in many science experiments. One is called Newton’s Beads in which a string of beads appears to defy gravity. If you want a full explanation complete with mathematical formulas check out this article:

Seed beads were used in a recent experiment that showed that hot water freezes faster than cold water.

5. The Glass Bead Game

A book by Hermann Hesse, published in 1943, in which the characters play a game using beads. (Why I did not buy this when I saw it in a used bookstore, I do not know.) For more information about this book see

6. Beads in dreams meanings

If you Google “Beads meanings in dreams”, you will find numerous entries of people and organizations that will help you interpret your dreams about beads. This is from Psychologist’s World online publication: To dream of beads, foretells attention from those in elevated position will be shown you. To count beads portends immaculate joy and contentment. To string them, you will obtain the favor of the rich. To scatter them signifies loss of caste among your acquaintances.

7. Beads, Children and Cancer

I learned of a group that uses beads and narrative to assist children with cancer to tell their stories. It was developed by Jean Gribbon, BS, RN, PhD, in 2003. Read more about this amazing program:

8. A Mass of beads

And finally, did you know that a “mass” is a measure of beads? A mass equals 1200 beads of the same size, shape, and color. I found this chart to be useful:


There are so many interesting uses for beads in many fields of study and industry. From science to health to literature, and beyond beads are found. thank you for going on this interesting foray into the world of beads with me. Happy beading!

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