The Art of Worry Beads

The Art of Worry Beads

The earliest mention of worry beads came from India. Made of a series of fruit pits, punctured and stringed on a piece of string, they were used to count prayers. In time, the fruit pits were replaced by amber, ivory, coral, semiprecious stones, or other stones and noble metals. A tassel and a “papas” (the bead that marks the beginning and end of its cycle) were eventually added. Worry beads were embellished and in time became “works of art.” Soon they evolved into a collectable that became a symbol of wealth, prestige, power and culture.

The Greek word for worry beads is kompoloi and was first introduced by the Turks. From the Turks it became popular, as an accessory at the hands of the dignitaries and sovereigns, as symbol of force, wealth and power. Soon kompolois became popular among the common people as means for meditation and companion in lounging and to calm the pain.

Kompoloi became again popular with the development of tourism in Greece. While they were viewed as an important element of Greek culture and tradition, they also became a souvenir sold to tourists. During this period kompoloi started being manufactured out of plastics, metals, or machine made silver platted beads and had nothing to do with the jewel of superior aesthetics and a symbol of wealth, power, freedom and prestige that used to be in the past.

The world has become exhausting with stress, shopping, drinking, smoking, depression and antidepressant drugs become a way of life. Kompoloi may offer the solutions because kompoloi are:

a way of giving up bad habits, such as smoking, nervousness or comfort eating, or biting our nails;
a jewel, when it is strung with valuable beads made of amber, semi-precious stones or precious metals;
a remedy, when it is made of semiprecious stones, which radiate a health-enhancing energy;
a piece of art, when it is designed with high standards of aesthetics;
a collector’s item, as it can be rare, beautiful, and precious;
a symbol of strength, power, when it is artistic and precious;
an amulet, when it contains symbols of our beliefs and good luck;
a psychotherapist, because the massage to our fingers can relax our neural system;
a home decorative for our the furniture, table and the walls;
a joy for our senses, with its purling beads, silken touch, vibrant colours, and the magical scent of amber and aromatic wood;
our personal trainer, because we can use it to train our fingers’ skills.
a heirloom, redolent of our forebears’ lives and the tales they told, and bearing the story of our own lives forward to generations to come;
a medium between man and God, because it can be used as a rosary to count prayers
a symbol of wealth; it points out that we have plenty of free time;
a reflection of our personality, as it reflects our ego, in the same way as our car or our house does

In other words…. “show me your worry beads and I’ll show you who you are”. Kompoloi are no longer a fashion fad: they are a necessity!


Find your Kompoli at the Greek Imports Booth at the Greek Festival and watch your stress melt away. Opa!

How to Use Worry Beads

  1. The standard way to use worry beads is to start by either holding the worry beads at one end or at the center of the beads (as shown). Drape the worry beads over your middle finger.
    2. Swing the worry beads back towards your arm and then swing them forward so that one end flips over your hand.
    3. Swing the worry beads upward and over your index finger.
    4. Have the worry beads land top of your hand, then flip them back to the position in figure 1.Repeat steps 1-4.Some Greeks use worry beads in other ways besides the steps outlined above, just like people handle stress in various ways. The act of focusing on the motion or feel of the worry beads is what relaxes one’s mind



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