Bone is a traditional material used in malas in both Nepal and Tibet. Bone represents the earth and our connection to it. Bone is also said to signify strength and to amplify prana (life force energy.)
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Sandstone sculptures have been found in India, dating from 185 BCE, that show Yogic sages holding prayer beads. Scholars believe that the practice of using mala beads originates in the 8th century BCE.