The Cultures of Collecting Prayer Beads in Turkey: Material Fetishism and The Construction of Authenticity
Prayer beads or rosaries (tesbih in Turkish), although being controversial in the relevant literature, have religious, cultural and functional significance in the doctrines and practices of various religious traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, etc. Beyond its religious functions and meanings, tesbih collection represents a deeply rooted and rich field, creating a unique cultural (and so-called secular) practice in Turkey. In this study, a very specific dimension of this cultural practice will be investigated, which is related with the materials used in rosary making. This article will attempt to examine how a material fetishism, which takes mystical states in some cases, has come to the forefront and how collectors and masters construct authenticity through and within materials in tesbih making. To investigate the construction of authenticity, the author will especially focus on the so-called “Ottoman (squeeze) amber” (faturan) in tesbih making, which are supposed to be related with the Ottoman period but indeed date back to a later (modern) period.
Indexterms - Prayer Beads (Tesbih), Rosary, Collection, Authenticity, Fetishism, Ottoman (squeeze) amber (Faturan).