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Argolis, Greece

Komboloi Museum (Greek Worry Bead Museum)

The secular incarnation of a religious meditation. 

From Catholic rosaries to Buddhist japa mala, strings of beads handled methodically are thought to calm the mind and the spirit. The Greek komboloi are small strings, like bracelets, with stones. Unlike rosaries, though, they have no religious connotation; they are used to relieve stress.

In 1963, Mr. and Mrs. Evangelinos became interested in komboloi and in 1998 finally opened a museum dedicated to their passion. On the first floor, a workshop makes new komboloi from older patterns and refurbishes crumbling komboloi. The second floor features worry beads from many different religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity) and traces the circuitous history of the beads. The largest collection, though, is of Greek komboloi. Religious beads typically are associated with prayers and contain a specific number of beads. Komboloi vary in length and material, but they are typically made from amber or coral, because those stones are said to have the best feel.

Of course, the museum shop sells komboloi for the stressed-out traveler to bring home. The Greek Folk Art Museum is also around the corner.