Why does a Mala have a Tassel?

mala tassels

A tassel is an essential and defining part of a yogic, Hindu or Buddhist mala. A mala bead’s tassel has both a functional purpose as well as a spiritual significance. The color of a mala’s tassel can also have an important spiritual and phycological effect on its wearer. We make all of our malas with tassels, due to the physical and spiritual importance of a mala bead’s tassel as well as the long tradition of including a tassel in a mala’s creation.

The function of a mala’s tassel:

The function of the tassel is to anchor the mala’s stringing cord at the end of the guru/meru bead and to also hide the end knot of the stringing material. A proper mala bead tassel should be made at the last stage of a mala’s construction to incorporate the cord and the final knot. A pre-made tassel attached or added on after construction does not have the same function or hold the same symbology as a tassel that is made as an integral part of the mala.

The history and symbolism of tassels:

prayer bead tasselsThroughout history, the tassel has served as a talisman and symbol of power, protection, prestige and spiritual connection. The binding of the main cord of the mala with additional yarn symbolizes our connection to the Divine and the inherent oneness of all reality. A mala’s tassel can also symbolize the fourth state of turiya (pure consciousness), the wearer’s wish to cultivate prana (life force energy), and one’s yearning towards moksha (liberation). In Buddhism, the tassel represents the roots of the lotus plant to remind the wearer of the analogy of “no mud, no lotus.”

The physical and spiritual symbolism of a tassel’s color:

  • The color red symbolizes kundalini shakti, power, passion, desire, sexuality, and love. The red color activates the 1st chakra: Muladhara. The chromotherapy effects of the color red are: warming, energizing, stimulating, and strengthening.
  • The color orange symbolizes prana (life force energy) and enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement. The orange color activates the 2nd chakra: Svadhisthana. The chromotherapy effects of the color orange are: warming, attraction, abundance, and enjoyment.
  • The color yellow symbolizes personal power, self-esteem, willfulness, and energy. The yellow color activates the 3rd chakra: Manipura. The chromotherapy effects of the color yellow are: strengthening, awakening, energizing, cheerfulness, confidence, and vitality.
  • The color green symbolizes compassion, universal love, growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. The green color activates the 4th chakra: Anahata. The chromotherapy effects of the color green are: balancing, harmonizing, soothing, rejuvenating, cleansing and calming.
  • The color blue symbolizes peace, communication, inspiration, expression, trust, loyalty, confidence and faith. The blue color activates the 5th chakra: Vissudha. The chromotherapy effects of the color blue are: cooling, tranquility, patience, sincerity, devotion, and understanding.
  • The color purple symbolizes knowledge, intuition, insight, higher wisdom, power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. The purple color activates the 6th chakra: Ajna. The chromotherapy effects of the color purple are: transformation, detoxification, meditation, inspiration, compassion, and contemplation.
  • The color white symbolizes light, goodness, innocence, and purity. The white color activates the 7th chakra: Sahasrara. The chromotherapy effects of the color white are: balance, harmony, perfection, consciousness, divination, cleanliness and simplicity.
  • The color black symbolizes power, elegance, formality, and mystery. The chromotherapy effects of the color black are: protection, seriousness, death, mourning, mystery, transformation and secrecy.

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About our tassels:

Tassels can be made of many different materials. At Japa Mala Beads we make all of our malas with Romanian hemp yarn. While not certified organic, the hemp we use doesn’t require any chemical pesticides or fertilizers to be grown. This highly sustainable plant is drought resistant and can produce 2-3 times as much fiber per acre than cotton. Hemp yarn is much less labor intensive to produce than silk and also does not require the amount of chemical processing of silk or cotton.

Tassel care:

A well worn and frequently used mala will have a tassel that is unwound and frayed. You may view this in the perspective of the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi–seeing beauty in that which is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Alternatively, you can dip your mala’s tassel in water, carefully smooth it out or gently comb it and then let it dry. You can also tidy up a frayed tassel by trimming the end of the tassel using sharp scissors. Another option is to restring the mala to replace the tassel with a new one.