The tribal beads are mostly made with natural materials like iron, wood, ivory, and even animal bones and teeth. These beads are usually enameled in different hues by using natural colors and then beautified by using various carving styles with sharp animal teeth, metal wires, and knives. Sometimes chunks of metals such as copper, silver, or brass are embellished with semi-precious and precious stones to create the tribal jewels. The strings for these beads are made by using fine strips of leather, animal hair, and other natural threads.
The process of making traditional meenakari bead starts by the designers before moving to the goldsmith and then giving to the engraver that sends it to the enamellist. After that, it moves on to the polisher, then the stone setter, and finally to the stringer. These are the parts of the important chain which leads to the production of a meenakari bead. However, due to unavailability of good and skilled artisans, an experienced worker can do many parts in a chain by himself.
Beads have a certain spiritual and religious significance in India. The japa mala is the type of beads that is popularly used by Hindus and Buddhists for various praying purposes. Commonly, it has 108 beads that are strung together. These malas are used for reciting, chanting, or repetition of a mental mantra to keep counting. Mantras are repeated hundreds of times or even thousands of times and these malas are used to keep people focus on the sound and the meaning of the mantra instead of just focusing on the number of the repetitions. If in Tibetan tradition, more than 108 times of repetition of a mantra should be done, people will count out a certain number of the rice grains while putting them in a bowl. After each 108 repetition has been done, one rice grain is removed from the bowl. This is continued until the bowl is empty.