Beads are used as a tool in meditation and prayer in many religions. The act of pulling each of the beads across your fingers is a great tactile way to count breaths or track the number of times a prayer or mantra has been chanted. Prayer beads, like the rosary, are frequently black — but why? The use of color has rich meaning and significance across all cultures, but the meaning will change depending on the particular place and context. The color psychology is important to many and an incredibly deep and fascinating subject.
Black in the Natural World
Black is difficult to observe in nature. Of course, your shadow is black — with regards to light, this tone is a state of total absorption, and you see nothing because nothing is emitted or reflected back — but few things are naturally colored this way.
Obsidian, smoky quartz, and onyx are the most common crystals and rocks used to create black beadwork. Black Bone beads are often quite common in jewelry. Obsidian, or volcanic glass, is believed in some cultures to possess mystical abilities that block negativity and relieve tension and mental stress.
Smoky quartz promotes serenity, while onyx is supposed to help you relax. Do they actually do this? It’s all a matter of interpretation, but that does not take away from their beautiful hue (not to mention the power of a good placebo). And when it comes to natural dyes and paints, charcoal or certain inks from sea creatures have historically been used to create this unique color. Again, not something that you’re likely to find while out and about.
The Meaning of Black
Black has some very important meanings in the Chinese practice of feng shui: it is believed that the tone harmonizes your home, office, and other environments. The color, half of the yin and yang, is associated with water elements and evokes power, mystery, and calm. In the West, the color is often associated with high society and formality: imagine a formal dinner suit or a slim dress.
This tone is also associated with mystery and positive traits; black is the color of protection and comfort. Negative connotations of it include depression, evil, and grief. As a result, the meaning of wearing it can vary widely depending on context: one might want to create an aura of mystery and intrigue, an impression of sensuality and confidence, or indicate that they are in mourning.
It is well-known for its slimming properties and shadowy nature, and perhaps this is why part of the reason why onyx colored clothing is associated with formality and power: it’s mysterious, refined, and elegant. This connection gives the color profound implications for its wearer and can be a powerful tool for expressing your individuality and state of mind.
Using Black Beads
Black beads confer many impressions — with a little imagination and contextual pairing, you can use them as a remarkably diverse and adaptable accessory. Whether you are expressing your faith through prayer beads, attending a fancy gala draped in a bold necklace, or using mala beads to achieve spiritual harmony, this color always makes a statement and is as beautiful as it is steeped in tradition.
To learn more about the meaning of colors, visit our Blog, "The Magical Meaning of 15 Different Colors, and How to Work with Them."