The Art and Significance of Bead Bracelets from Yonghe Temple

Nestled in the heart of Beijing, Yonghe Temple, also known as the Lama Temple, is a site of profound spiritual significance and rich cultural heritage. Among the many treasures that this temple houses, one of the most cherished by visitors and devotees alike are the bead bracelets, commonly known as “手串” (shǒuchuàn). These bracelets are not merely decorative items but are imbued with deep religious and cultural meanings, making them a coveted possession for many. This article delves into the art, significance, and spiritual essence of the bead bracelets from Yonghe Temple.

Historical and Cultural Context

Yonghe Temple, a former imperial palace during the Qing Dynasty, has been a center of Tibetan Buddhism since the 18th century. It is renowned for its intricate architecture, impressive statues, and spiritual ambiance. The bead bracelets sold here are often made from a variety of materials, including sandalwood, rosewood, and other precious woods, each selected for their unique properties and spiritual significance.

Craftsmanship and Materials

The creation of a bead bracelet is a meticulous process that involves skilled craftsmanship. Artisans select the finest materials, ensuring that each bead is uniform in size and shape. The most common materials used include:

  • Sandalwood: Known for its soothing fragrance, sandalwood is believed to calm the mind and promote spiritual growth. It is often used in meditation practices.
  • Rosewood: With its rich, dark color, rosewood is associated with strength and vitality. It is also known for its durability and fine grain, making it a popular choice for bead bracelets.
  • Bodhi Seeds: These seeds are highly revered in Buddhism, symbolizing enlightenment as they are named after the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment.

The beads are typically polished to a smooth finish, enhancing their natural beauty and making them pleasant to touch. Each bracelet is strung together with a durable thread, often adorned with a tassel or a small charm, adding to its aesthetic appeal.

Spiritual Significance

In Buddhism, bead bracelets, or mala beads, are used as tools for meditation and prayer. A standard mala consists of 108 beads, a number that holds great significance in Buddhist teachings. It is said to represent the 108 earthly temptations that one must overcome to achieve enlightenment.

Devotees use these beads to count their prayers or mantras, a practice that helps them focus and maintain their meditation rhythm. Each bead represents a single repetition of a mantra, and as one moves from bead to bead, it helps in maintaining concentration and mindfulness.

Personal and Spiritual Connection

Owning a bead bracelet from Yonghe Temple is often seen as a way to carry a piece of the temple’s spiritual energy. Many believe that these bracelets hold the blessings of the temple, providing protection and good fortune to the wearer. Visitors often purchase them not only as souvenirs but as talismans of spiritual significance.

For many, these bracelets serve as a reminder of their spiritual journey and commitment to their practices. Wearing the bracelet can evoke a sense of peace and tranquility, serving as a daily reminder to stay mindful and present.

Contemporary Appeal

In recent years, the popularity of bead bracelets has transcended religious boundaries. They have become fashionable accessories, appreciated for their aesthetic beauty and the sense of calm they bring to the wearer. The fusion of traditional craftsmanship with modern design has made these bracelets appealing to a broader audience.

Moreover, the rising interest in mindfulness and meditation practices in the West has further popularized mala beads. Many people, regardless of their religious beliefs, use these bracelets as part of their meditation routines, appreciating their historical and spiritual roots.


The bead bracelets from Yonghe Temple are more than just ornaments; they are embodiments of spiritual heritage and craftsmanship. Each bracelet tells a story of devotion, culture, and the quest for inner peace. Whether used for meditation, as a talisman, or simply as a beautiful accessory, these bracelets carry with them the timeless essence of Yonghe Temple’s spiritual legacy. As they continue to capture the hearts of people around the world, they stand as a testament to the enduring allure of traditional craftsmanship and spiritual practice.


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