Komboloi / Greek Worry Beads


Komboloi, frequently referred to as Greek worry beads, are everywhere in Athens, and presumably elsewhere in Greece. Never have I seen so many men fondling their doodads in their pants pockets, palms or just right out in the open! Some guys claim that bigger is better, and more macho. While others go for more unusual materials. I actually found it rather mesmerizing to watch some men flip it effortlessly through their fingers, or flick it one ball at a time. When I was in high school, the thing was to twirl a pencil or pen around your thumb and back. At one point, I could even flip a pen up in the air and catch it while the teacher was facing the blackboard. So after a few days in Athens, I knew I just had to get myself my own komboloi as my goody for the visit… There were quite literally millions of kombolois for sale in the city… it seemed every tourist shop had hundreds to choose from, many of them probably made in China from synthetic materials and the prices ranged from about 1 Euro to thousands of Euros for a really fine piece…


While I considered a larger komboloi with stone beads, it just seemed too cumbersome to haul around in one’s pocket. The ones made with real amber were particularly cool, just too big for my taste. So after a day or two of searching, I ended up with this komboloi. Handmade by a silversmith right in the heart of the Plaka, the small kolomboi is made with sterling silver chain and beads and with a few beads made from hematite, a grey stone that I particularly like. It’s just right for carrying around, and while I haven’t come close to perfecting the classic flips and twists which are second nature to most Greeks, it does seem to calm me down when I play with them… Here is a link to teach you how to play with your komboloi… And if you are slow on the uptake, here is a video for the more visually inclined… :)

The Silversmith was located at:
25 Kydathinaion Street
Athens, Greece


13 Responses

  1. Pardon me but I couldn;t resist…I can’t help thinking what an entry would sound like in a tourist mag…Greek men like playing with their komboloi. Some of them have big ones and some have small ones but most men seem to be fiddling with their kolomboi one way or another….out in the open, in their pockets.

    Now you, MM, can be like them…playing with your komboloi to help soothe you when you’re worried, calm you into introspection or keep your hand busy when you’re restless. Have fun with your kolomboi, you naughty boi : )

    Having said all that, it really IS a nice souvenir…would pair nicely with a set of silver buddha beads.

  2. Hatari, you should listen to the salesmen when they try to get you to buy the bigger, flashier, hefty and obviously more expensive ones…. :) OH, and I FORGOT. Women too can play with their kombolois!

  3. Not sure but I was told it’s komboloi. I got mine in red coral from some shop in Monastiraki. Beats playing with Chinese baoding balls in your pocket!

  4. Michael, you are ABSOLUTELY correct. It is komboloi… no wonder I couldn’t find the site that taught you how to flip them… duh, so dopey of me… post will be changed now. Thank you so much for pointing that out. I appreciate it. I am getting worse than dyslexic…

  5. There’s an even cooler toy similar to the komboloi that only has two weights on each end of a short string. Can’t recall what it’s called. The vendor was doing faster twirls with it. It could even double as a weapon because you can easily take someone’s eye out with it.

  6. Haha, reminds me of that old novelty song “Playing with my ding-a-ling”!!!!! (Silly Lolo, c’mon make a comment! This is right up your alley!!! We miss your comments…)

  7. Thanks very much to the link back to our website. Being Greek, I appreciate how strange worry beads must look to visitors. They DO work, though, and after a while you can’t do without one. For those of you wanting to try one, take a look at our collection – all sizes, materials and price tags. We are always available for advice via email. Thanks again, and ENJOY!

  8. hahaha of course I own one I just dont flip it like most greeks do…am sitting here at the fore of the boat somewhere in Abacos reading about greek posts (oh internet)…. I finally have a ticket for September..

  9. I found your blog from lorelei76. Thanks for all great information about Greece. I will be there this weekend for 5 weeks.
    Keep up the great work

  10. You should really buy a komboloi in amber, then you will understand why it is truly a special thing. I recommend you look on ebay there is a seller that goes by Culturetaste, and what he brings to the market is truly remarkable, one would be lucky to own any of his pieces. He has a website too if you do a simple google search. If solid amber is out of your price range you can go with a pressed amber or a faturan type assuming it’s new faturan because antique faturan can cost even more than solid amber. Even among the Greeks there are many who do not fully understand the beauty and pleasure of an amber komboloi, but most do.

  11. As a greekwoman, I have been very proud of culturetaste website, so that my country may be even more famous all over the world.



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