The mala is used in Buddhism and Hinduism and sometimes they are simply referred to as prayer beads. The Mala is designed to assist the wearer in keep track of the number of mantras he or she repeats. During the twentieth century malas also started becoming fashion statements.
Malas are mainly used to count mantras. The basic function of the mala is to allow one to think about the meaning of the mantra without having to also concentrate on counting the repetitions. Each time the mantra is repeated, the fingers move to the next bead. The mala is generally held in the left hand. One bead is counted for each recitation of the mantra, starting with the first bead next to the guru bead. The guru bead is the three holed bead that is the decorative focal piece. The first bead is held between the index finger and thumb, and with each count the thumb pulls another bead in place over the index finger. Recite one mantra, then move your thumb and forefinger to the next bead, recite the next mantra, then repeat. After completing a full circuit of the mala,the mala is flipped around 180 degrees and continues as before, in reverse order. One avoids passing over the guru bead, as doing so is symbolically like stepping over one's teacher.
Mantras can be recited for different purposes linked to working with mind. The material used to make the beads can vary according to the purpose of the mantras used. The mala is used to bring peace and contentment and holds the power that you put into it with your prayers and mantras.
This is a true 108 bead mala. Stones are 7 mm diameter, superior quality, AAA grade, very clear, and mala is approximately 27 inches diameter. It may or may not fit over your head to wear as a necklace. I have a fairly small head (at least I think I do) and I easily fit it over mine.