I've been working on something new this week. I have made 3 medieval rosaries so far. This one above is made of pink coral carved into flowers with gold plated paternosters, connector and cross.
Medieval rosaries are not made with beads on wires, instead they are beads strung on cord with space enough to freely move the beads while in prayer.
Rosaries have 5 sections called decades ( of 10 beads each) separated by larger beads called gauds or paternosters. These beads are connected to a center with a drop of 2 gauds and 3 of the smaller beads in between (called aves) and ending in a cross, a medal or in true medieval fashion, a tassel.
I didn't have any tassels so I have used the larger crosses in my stash.
This one above is strung on red silk cord, the others use black, and the silver metal beads are shaped as roses. The gauds are red coral and the cross is vintage sterling silver.
Coral was the bead of choice for those that could afford it in medieval times. It was not only pretty, it was also lightweight so easy to carry. Some wore their rosaries like a necklace though I read where that is offensive today. I think in a society where most people owned and used rosaries as an aid to prayer, how you wore it was not a problem. Sometimes it was pinned to the garment or kept in a pocket or looped around the wrist. Many medieval portraits will show these differences. Another popular bead used was the pearl as well as glass and various stones. Poorer folks made do with wood.
I went a bit beyond the norm with this one though beads were not always round in the medieval era. This one has Celtic knotwork on the aves which are not round and I used a wonderful Celtic cross I had. The gauds are blue sodalite, a type of granite. I felt the blue worked nicely with the silver colored pewter of the cross and beads.
I have seen many beautiful rosaries on Etsy but none in the medieval style. Since there seem to be a lot of re-enactors that shop at Etsy, I hope to do well selling these.
For more info on rosaries and medieval rosaries go here .