The Prayer Rope (komboskini in Greek, chotki in Russian), is an Orthodox Christian rosary made usually of wool or silk in black color and numerous knots.
As other prayer beads, prayer ropes are used to count prayers. The history of the prayer rope goes back to the origins of Christian monasticism, when monks used to pray every day the 150 psalms.
Initially, the prayer rope consisted of 300, 500 or 100 knots, but they actually come in a great variety of forms and sizes (from 33 to 150 knots usually) according the tradition and local use. Prayer ropes are not only used by monks but by any other person who wants to pray to God.
Long prayer ropes have beads inserted at certain intervals between the knots (usually every 10 or 25 or 50 knots) used as markers for counting purpose. They end in a knotted cross and sometimes (mainly in Russian prayer ropes) there is a tassel after the cross. The tassel is believed to represent Heavenly Kingdom, which is accessible only through the Cross.
The black color of the wool or silk symbolizes the mourn for our sins and failings, while each knot consists of seven interlocked knotted crosses, a knotting technique said to be taught to a monk by an angel to make the knots unable to be unraveled by devil.
Short prayer ropes, such as the 33 knots prayer rope bracelets are made with 33 knots, a knotted or metal cross and usually two colored beads.
Although prayer ropes are meant to be used for religious purpose, it is common for many people to carry them or wear them (in the case of prayer rope rings or bracelets) as protective amulets.
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