paternoster string with walnut and amber beads

January 01, 2010: I made this paternoster as a christmas present for Karsten. I'm glad he liked it :-)
It is patterned after a string hold by Saint Joseph in a painting of the Magdalen reading by Rogier van der Weyden (which might actually be a surviving fragment of a lost altarpiece). Saint Joseph's string contains large amber beads (two times eight), three bone or ivory marker beads and black (?) tassels on both ends.

Magdalen Reading Magdalen Reading

linear rosary of Saint Joseph

I did not find an affordable source for many amber beads of the same size... As wooden beads seem to have been very common, I used round walnut beads I ordered here (a pity they only deliver in Switzerland and what a pain it was to get these beads!) with large amber marker beads. The walnut beads are well-polished and show a nice grain texture, so I'm quite happy with these. As my beads seem to be a little smaller than Saint Joseph's (the wooden ones are c. 15 mm in diameter) I used three times eight beads instead of two times eight as in the Weyden painting.
I ordered dark blue silk thread (tight twist) from Devere Yarns for the string and the little tassels. I used a simple two loops technique to make the string (using more loops simply made it too thick for the beads). I wanted a turk's head knot on the tassels, but there was not enough time to make gimp thread (which would be easier to knot and would look much better) so I used a simple cord for the knot. Here is a useful tutorial an how to make the turk's head knot. Maybe I'll try again later with proper gimp thread... Anyway, here are some pictures of Karsten's new rosary:

linear rosary linear rosary linear rosary
linear rosary linear rosary linear rosary

Karsten's paternoster with walnut and amber beads

Rather short linear paternosters with tassels are typically used by men. Here are some more examples from the artwork:

Arnolfini wedding St Jerome in his study martyrdom of St. Ursula and the 1000 virgins epitaph of the Gundelfinger family

more paternoster strings

The one in the Arnolfini wedding picture has quite a large number of beads (29 if I counted correctly, which is very close to 28 as in my rosary :-) The tassels in the second picture might have turk's head knots - If they do, they are even made from a different colored thread than the tassel itself. The paternosters in the third and fourth picture seem might be made from wooden beads. The man in the last picture holds a string with rather few beads (so much for piety)...

(bettina, january 2010)