This is a traditional mala strand of 108 8mm black ebony wood beads along with the 109th extra bead, sometimes called the
"Teacher Bead", or "Guru Bead" or even "Meru Bead". Mala have been used
for centuries as a method to keep count of mantras, as a focus for
meditative purposes, sometimes just handled as a way to ease tension, or
even simply as adornment.