Enquiry about object: 7323

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    Tibetan Bone Mala with Tokcha

    circa 18th century

    circumference: approximately 75cm, length of Tokcha: 4.2cm, weight: 112g



    private collection, UK.

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This Tibetan Buddhist rosary (sin-‘phen) is of the finest quality. The patina from age and handling is incontrovertible.

    It comprises 108 flattened, spherical bone beads each of which has the most exquisite, glossy, dark patina. A well-worn brass tokcha in the form of ga’u or amulet box cover serves a central marker.

    Buddhist rosaries evolved from ancient Hindu-Indian mala prayer beads. In Tibet, they were used by both laymen and monks. Generally, they comprise 108 beads plus others as counters or markers. The main prayer beads were used to count repetitions of prayers.

    Tokchas are small talismans usually of bronze or copper alloy that Tibetans used to wear about their person to protect them and to absorb evil. Particularly effective or powerful tokchas would be sold on and passed down through the generations so that genuine and powerful tokchas should show a great deal of wear, as in the case of the example here.

    The set here is in a very fine, stable and wearable condition. Each element is smooth from wear, and handling. The bone beads all have a beautiful, dark patina.


    Bashkanov, M., M. Bashkanov, P. Petrov, & N. Serikoff, Arts from the Land of Timur: An Exhibition from a Scottish Private Collection, Sogdiana Books, 2012.

    Heller, A., Early Himalayan Art, Ashmolean Museum, 2008.

    Henss, M., Buddhist Ritual Art of Tibet: A Handbook on Ceremonial Objects and Ritual Furnishings in the Tibetan Temple, Arnoldsche, 2020.

    Reynolds, V., Tibet: A Lost World: The Newark Museum Collection of Tibetan Art and Ethnology, The American Federation of Arts, 1978.

    Sherr Dubin, L., The Worldwide History of Beads, Thames & Hudson, 2009.

    Untracht, O., Traditional Jewelry of India, Thames & Hudson, 1997.

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