19×5 Bahá’í Prayer Bead with Wooden Agate
A closed 19×5 Bahá’í prayer bead set constructed with wooden and moroccan agate, sunset and silver leaf jasper, moonstone, sardonyx, golden sheen obsidian, feldspar, black and green tourmaline, indian rosewood, and 14 karat and 10 karat yellow gold components with hand-made cotton tassels on polyester and genuine leather.
The beads are divided into three main parts: (1) the lower circular section of nineteen beads, (2) the linear mid-section of five beads, and (3) the upper section of a single wooden bead. The lower section is further divided into four parts. This section represents the reality of the cyclic progression of man through stages of re-birth and death as he moves closer and further from the Teachings of God:
“Thegreatest bounties of God in this phenomenal world are His Manifestations. This is the greatest postulate. These Manifestations are the Suns of Reality. For it is through the Manifestation that the reality becomes known and established for man. History proves to us that apart from the influence of the Manifestations, man sinks back into hisanimal condition, using even his intellectual power to subserve an animal purpose. Therefore there is no cessation whatsoever in the future for the appearance of the Manifestation of God” i
As it is in the natural world, where life is rejuvenated in the springtime, bears fruits in the summertime, begins to decay in the autumn season, and dies in the winter, mankind passes throughseasons. The four divisions in the lower section reflect the four seasons, which are indicated by the smaller coloured beads. The beads representing spring shade from white to pink, summer’s beads from pink to a rich brown, autumn’s from brown to black, and winter’s from black to white. Man is represented by stone beadsthatresemble wood- a strong yet susceptible natural material.
The mid-section is a representation of the Manifestations of God. There are formally ten beads in this section: five stones, four gold beads, and one gold clasp. The ten beads from top to bottom represent the major lineage of Manifestations from Noah to Baha’u’llah, where the latter is represented by the gold clasp that takes the form of a sun with prominentemanating rays:
“The holy realities of the Manifestations of God have two spiritual positions. One is the place of manifestation, which can be compared to the position of the globe of the sun, and the other is the resplendency of the manifestation, which is like its light and radiance; these are the perfections of God— in other words, the Holy Spirit” ii
The Manifestations are represented as pseudo-men: the same stone is used as in the lower section, signifying the human nature of the Manifestations, but they are also represented bylarge gold beads, indicating their elevated stations:
“The Holy Manifestations of God possess two stations: one is the physical station, and one the spiritual. In other words, one station is that of a human being, and one, of the Divine Reality. If the Manifestations are subjected to tests, it is in Their human station only, not in the splendor of Their Divine Reality.” iii
Baha’u’llah’s bead intentionally stands out so as to acknowledge Him as the Promised One of all ages, and is the closest to the lower section (the reality of man) to indicate that He is the Promised One for this day. Smaller gold beads appear in the lower section, representing the interwoven influence and teachings of the Manifestations in the fabric of life. Note that these beads appear through all seasons: in the spring and summer they are more pure and become more skewed and corrupted towards the fall and winter.
The upper-section has the least amount of detail out of respect, and acknowledgement of man’s inability to understand his Creator:
“Say: The grace of God can never be adequately understood; how much less canHis own Self, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, be comprehended!” iv
This section is composed of one entity - a single bead that is the most elaborate of all the beads, and it sits atop the rest of the beads and sections. The wood-material appears inthe lowest section, however, so as to representthe presence and operation of God and His Will in all the seasons, triumphs and tribulations of man.
The two tassels and the pendant serve as aesthetic components. The two tassels represent the Twin Manifestations. They both have one green stone below; this signifies the Bab’s lineage as a Sayyid (although Baha’u’llah was not a Sayyid, both tassels have the stones for aesthetic consistency).
i Foundations of World Unity- Abdu’l-Bahá
ii Some Answered Questions, Abdu’l-Bahá
iii Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
iv The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, Baha’u’llah