How to Tie a Buddhist Mala Knot

Used by Buddhist monks and modern-day spiritual practitioners to help focus on specific mantras during meditation, malas are made of beads that are looped along a string and tied off by a simple noose-like knot. This knot, commonly called the snake-knot, is easy to learn and can be used in many home crafts. It is an effective way of tying together two string ends in a manner that resists unravelling and looks clean and neat. The snake-knot used in Buddhist malas usually consists of nine double-loop knots, which represents the base number of the 108 beads of the mala itself.

String the beads.

Take the cord or strings ends in each hand separately.

Loop the string in the right hand over and then back under the string in the left hand, creating an eye-like loop that the left-hand string passes through.

Loop the left-hand string around the right, creating an opposite loop that encompasses the crossed portion of the other loop.The two strings should now form a figure eight.

Tighten both strings until the figure eight becomes a small, round knot, leaving the left-hand string slightly loose.

Bring the right-hand string -over and across the left and loop it under the left string. Pass the cord through the loosened knot, under the left-hand string and under itself.

Tighten the knot. You should now have a knot that has two loops on the left and one on the right.

Change hands, turning the knot over so that the two loops are now on the right side.

Loop the knot again from the right to the left passing the left-hand string first over and above the left side then below and under.

Tighten this knot. You should now have a knot with two loops on each side.

Continue this looping process, changing hands and turning the knot over each time a new loop is completed until the nine double loops that make up the base of the mala knot are completed.

Things You'll Need

  • Cord or string
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About the Author

Based in San Francisco, Ocean Malandra is a travel writer, author and documentary filmmaker. He runs a major San Francisco travel website, is widely published in both online and print publications and has contributed to several travel guidebooks to South America.