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Kompoloi – Worry beads

On a visit to our Heartland villages, there is a likelihood of catching sight of people fidgeting with a string of beads in their hands. This string of beads is known as kompoloi (worry beads). Although its history started around 1000 AD by the monks of Mount Athos as a prayer beads string (aka komposkoini or the prayer wreath of Virgin Mary), it has been established in Cyprus since the middle of the 20th century and has no religious or ceremonial purposes.

The word Kompoloi derives from the words kompos (knot) and lego (to say), which is the shorten word of the phrase “in every knot I say a prayer”.

Kompoloi is part of Cyprus culture and has several uses: relaxation, enjoyment, pass time, as an amulet or as a mark of power and social status. The more precious the beads of kompoloi the higher the social status.

The beads of kompoloi are made from any type of material, from acorns and wood to semi-precious stones such as hematite, amethyst, pearls or even ivory, coral, silver, gold and of course amber. Kompoloi has usually an odd number of beads (it must be a multiple of four plus one, e,g. 4×4+1, 5×4+1 and so on). It has a fixed bead, the so called “papas” (priest), a shield (Gr. thyreos) that allows the beads to slide easily and a tassel (Gr. founta). The length of kompoloi is about two palms width.

Kompoloi can be played in different manners. Buy your own kompoloi and start practicing. One thing is sure; as the beads hit each other, your tension and worries will be off.

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