This little alabaster figure from the foot of a medieval effigy is a Bedesman. His task was to pray for souls listed on a bede-roll represented by small items on a string called "bedes" (i.e. "prayers"). Souls who wished to be prayed for gave alms, donations, or gifts. When, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the use of little perforated globes of bone, wood, or amber, threaded on a string, came into fashion for the purpose of counting the repetitions of the "Our Father" or "Hail Mary", these objects themselves became known as bedes, later becoming known as "beads".
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