Some years ago, a Korean friend traveled back home to see family and then brought back some gifts to us. For me, knowing I was a Buddhist (she is Catholic), she brought me this: a Korean-style Buddhist rosary.
I’ve written about Buddhist rosaries before, but in a Japanese context, so this is somewhat new to me. I don’t know if this is typical of most Korean Buddhists, or just tourists, but this rosary is interesting for a couple reasons.
First, if you look carefully, the beads have Chinese characters written on them. In fact, this is the text of the Heart Sutra written in Classical Chinese with different verses on each bead, read clockwise starting from left of the larger bead.
Speaking of the larger bead, it has Sanskrit lettering on it in red, which spells “om” as in the verse used for chanting. I think that this is written in Siddham script, but I might be wrong.
Finally this little rosary has one extra little surprise: the large bead in the middle opens up to reveal a tiny Buddhist statue!
It’s hard to be 100% certain who this is, but I believe it is Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva since he/she is the main speaker in the Heart Sutra. Anyhow, it’s a nice thought to be carrying Avalokitesvara around wherever I go.
Sadly, I don’t wear this too often. As with many Buddhist rosaries made in Asia, it is just a bit too tight on my wrist and gradually cuts off circulation. I have rarely found one that fits me, even when friends make one to custom order. So, sadly, it sits in its box except for special occasions when I wear it.
In any case for such a small rosary, it has a lot of neat stuff on it (and in it), and a nice way to see how religion is practiced in neighboring cultures.