Magdalen Reading paternoster

Sometimes, I go to the bead store, find something that absolutely has to come home with me, and then the beads beg to be made into something.

The beads I picked up aren’t true amber; they’re an amber resin, which is where amber scraps are melted down and turned into amber-like resin, along with a couple of binders.  The result is an ultra-light, deeply coloured amber-like material that looks an awful lot like beads used in paintings from SCA-period.

This particular paternoster was inspired by two paternosters: the Arnolfini Portrait and The Magdalen Reading, both from 1430s Netherlands.  In the Arnolfini Portrait, a linear paternoster with twenty-nine beads (either glass or quartz) hangs in the background – bright green tassels in contrast to the stark white walls in the painting (bearing an awfully close resemblance to the Ghent Altarpiece paternoster.  The Magdalen Reading has a linear paternoster with twenty beads (17 of them amber-like, the other three a white material, probably bone) and dark green or black tassels.  The tassels on both paternosters are very large, very full, and by the way they look, both well-used.100_6169.JPG

In making this set, I used the aforementioned amber resin beads, as well as some cherry amber for the ends with tassels in green silk.

I still have a little bit more of the amber-like beads, and I anticipate more soon, and hopefully even closer to the Magdalen Reading paternoster!


About Konstantia Kaloethina

I belong to the Society for Creative Anachronism, and there, I'm known as Konstantia Kaloethina, an Eastern Roman (Byzantinian) woman of the sixth century from Constantinople. I am proteged to Master Gabriel andvaka Kjotvason, and apprenticed to Mistress Bess Darnley. I'm an American of Irish, German, Burgundian, and Norwegian descent. I share Harry Potter's birthdate (July 31st, 1983). I typically score as INTJ (Myers-Briggs), and as a confirmed Five with a Four wing "Iconoclast" (Enneagram) type, with strong scores in Musical, Visual/Spatial, and Intrapersonal on the Multiple Intelligences test.
This entry was posted in beads, later period, paternosters, prayer beads, SCA. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Magdalen Reading paternoster

  1. Ann Seeton says:

    Very pretty. I like the eastern tradition of tassels on prayer ropes. Your choice of green with the amber resin is lovely.


    • Rachel Ost says:

      In this particular case, I’ve not found this particular usage tied to being either Eastern or Western (and honestly, based on what I’ve seen, this looks incredibly Western in style for this type of prayer bead).


      • Ann Seeton says:

        From its source, it would be western. But the use of a tassel suggests eastern influence.


      • Rachel Ost says:

        Not quite. Paternosters with tassels predate many other forms of prayer beads, and to be honest, I’ve seen very little evidence on komboskini (or chotki, for that matter) as possibly used in period. And sometimes, a tassel is just a tassel. Many cultures use tassels with their items, not just Eastern cultures.


  2. Pingback: Projects of 2015 – the round-up | konstantia kaloethina

  3. Very nice! I’m sure I’ve seen a very similar looking one in another painting too.


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