This small bronze bead, hand crafted about 1400-1550 was part of a Buddhist prayer ritual. It was strung along with others, each showing differences from hand work, to aid the devotee by focusing concentration in prayer. In form, it served as a memento mori, a reminder of our mortality and impending death. The form is very popular and widely produced today, however, genuine early examples such as this are exceedingly rare. The few survivors were brought out of Tibet by followers of the Dalai Lama in the 1950s after the Communist Chinese takeover of Tibet. It is in as-found condition with centuries of character and fine patina, and suspended noninvasively, from a 24karat gold plated Sterling silver necklace for modern wear. Jewelry gift boxed with certificate of authenticity.