In China, vintage sandalwood is a prized material to carve malas (prayer beads strung according to Buddhist tradition), bangles and bracelets from. The wood’s ambient aroma, its beautiful grain and the esteemed status it holds in Zen and Buddhist tradition all come together in a beautiful this-worldy aesthetic used for an otherworldly purpose.
We had a big piece of vintage Tanzanian sandalwood on display at our atelier for precisely this reason — a sandalwood relic to marvel at.
Guests were welcome to shave off slivers to smell, and longtime sandalwood lovers got the chance to see and hold such a rarity for the first time.
Then we got a crazy idea: fly the log to Turkey and have it carved by the masters of the art of prayer beads.
The Turks are centuries ahead of any other carving tradition, including the Chinese and Japanese. In Turkey and across the Muslim world, prayer beads or ‘tasbih’ are used for dhikr (remembrance of the Divine) and especially associated with the Sufis—for whom a tasbih is practically an extension of their body, so integral to everyday life it hardly ever leaves their hand.
In the perfect tasbih, you see two qualities come together in unison.
1. Precious / deserving / revered material.
2. The artistry reflected in the carving.
In China, they go full out when it comes to precious materials, but pay little attention to the beadwork. And you see it: 99% of the beads are all off-round and in a string of beads no two are identical.
The attention to detail in an Ottoman tasbih is unmatched, and the artistry in design far beyond what any other culture has produced. And the craftsmanship, the precision of the carving itself is way ahead of the game. You see, in Turkey, prestige lies with the master… more than the material.
That’s why we didn’t fly our Tanzanian log to China but to Turkey. Here you see the meeting of two great traditions, where craftsmanship and artistry get imbued with reverence for the beads’ origin.
This Tanzanian Sandal Tasbih gives you the ultimate artistry and Zen’s favorite scent. As such, it is a landmark first in the history of Ottoman tasbih.
We only had this one log to work with, so only a handful of tasbihs were made, in classic 33-bead style.
To ensure you own one of the rarest—and most fragrant—tasbihs ever carved in the history of Ottoman prayer beads, pre-order now.
You’ll also receive a free 20-gr packet of carving dust to enjoy as incense.