So I ordered a bunch of beads from Shipwreck Beads including an unusual type of bead that I had never seen before. I am drawn to unusual or interesting beads, and these Rudraksha beads attracted my attention. So much so, that I did a little research on them.
The Rudraksha tree is responsible for these tree seed beads, that grows in regions like the Himalayas, Indonesia, Australia, Guam, and even Hawaii. The name is Sanskrit and is a combination of two words Rudra, another name for the Hindi deity Shiva, and Aksha, which means 'eyes'. The legend goes, Shiva sat in meditation and when he opened his eyes he shed a single tear. From that tear sprang a holy tree - and the seeds of that tree are now used as prayer beads in the Hindi religion.
The fruit is an unusually bright blue color, and the seed pod inside has divisions depending on how many seeds are in the pod. A common division number is five, but there can be as few as one and as many as twenty-one. The divisions are called 'faces'. Five is a special number according to the Hindus and beads with this many faces can only be strung on red thread or gold chain.
The Rudraksha seed is considered an 'energy seed' that can help your chakras and your spiritual purity, and supposedly in order to tell a real one from a fake one there are several tests you can perform. My favorite test is that a real seed will sink in water. I've read that fakes will float, but I've also read that even real seeds can float, but most of them will sink. When I bought my seeds I decided to test this and sure enough, most of mine sank. They're very light, but they still dropped like a stone.
Admittedly I am not a Hindu, but I still can admire the beauty of these natural sacred seeds. The frustrating part was when I put my beads in the water. They had this lovely brown color, like the above picture, and when I dunked them all that dark brown pigment came off! They ended up being tan, which is okay, but the color is uninspiring. I accidentally dyed my dishes scrubber a brownish pink, and my hand an odd shade of yellow/brown so I think they may have been dyed. I am kind of glad that I did dunk them. I can't imagine what would have happened had I made a necklace and then worn them and they had gotten wet with water or sweat. I would have dyed my neck! And heaven help me if I had sold them.
Currently I am REALLY into my sharpies. I bought the metallic set recently and I have gone to town on some of my wooden beads. But I didn't want to color the Rudraksha beads with the metals, and I really wanted that lovely brown color back. So I colored one with brown. It was okay, but when I colored over it with red it became absolutely perfect. The exact chocolate color that I wanted.
The brown/red sharpie beads are on the left, the uncolored are in the middle and on the right I did a brown/turquoise/red combo which looks slightly richer in color. I need to get a sealant, debating on a mod podge finish or nail polish. I might even try a resin or epoxy. Since I'm saving my free money for a Steampunk Con that's coming this weekend, it'll be a week and a half before I can buy a sealant. (The trials of being poor, yeah?) But I am needing a sealant more and more, so it's time I bit the bullet.
As I said before - these beads are really light. They look lovely in earrings, necklaces and bracelets. (One thing you'll not find is one on a ring. That supposedly ruins the purity of the seed, since hands get dirty easily.) They're easy to clean - a slightly damp cloth, a little air dry and voila.
I hope you like these sacred seeds as much as I do. If you're looking for texture, visual impact, or natural components then try the Rudraksha Seeds. (And bring your sharpies if you like coloring on wood.)