Why are bones used in Mala Beads?

Why are bones used in Mala Beads?

Using Bone Beads in Malas

Many of our customers are surprised to find out that animal bone is used to make mala beads. On the surface, it appears quite ironic that this is used to make sacred tools that are used for in prayer and meditation. 

In Tibet and Nepal, most of the bone beads come from yaks and buffaloes. Note that the animals aren't killed specifically for this purpose. However, as a matter of practicality, butchers want to ensure that no part goes to waste. As a material, bone is abundant, cheap and durable. So often the bones are then carved to beads that are used in malas. 

A lesson in Impermanence

Many Buddhist ritual tools and instruments were made from both animal and even human bones in Historical Tibet. These include the bone trumpet (kang ling, picture below) which were made from the femur, as well as a Kapalar (skull cup) that were used in various rituals. 

Bone trumpet kangling

The use of bones in various ritual implements is associated with the Buddhist idea of impermanence... a reminder to live in the present moment and that nothing remains forever. Bone malas are also associated with powerful and wrathful protector deity practices in Mahayana Buddhism.

Further, some also believe that making a mala helps accumulate merit for the animal whose bones are used, even though their consciousness may have already passed on to the next life.  

Our Bone Mala Beads

Tibet Shop Sydney has a range of bone malas as well as bone mala bracelets in stock. See them below:

Polished Bone Mala (108 beads)


Bone Inlay Mala (copy of antique bone malas in Tibet)


Bone Mala Bracelet with Eye Pattern


Bone Mala Bracelet (White with inlay)


Skull Beads Mala Bracelet (bone)



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