The Coptic Mequteria (like the Russian Orthodox Chotki and the Greek Komvoschinion) is sometimes called a “Publican” as the prayer that is used is the prayer of the publican found in Luke 18:10-14 where Jesus justifies the humble prayer of the Publican—“God, have mercy on me, a sinner (NIV).”
The Mequtaria can have 41, 64, or 100 beads. On the 41 bead Mequteria, thirty-nine of the beads symbolize lashes Christ was given before the crucifixion. The remaining two beads symbolize the crown of thorns and the piercing of His side. A variation of the Jesus Prayer—“Lord, have mercy”—is prayed on each bead.
In my quest to find Christian crosses from throughout the world, I learned that the Coptic Church considers itself apostolic—meaning, it was founded by one of the 12 apostles. Just as the Roman Catholic Church considers the apostle, Peter, its first pope, the Coptic Church considers the apostle, Mark, its founder. This made the bible come to life for me as I imagined the twelve apostles spreading the Good News throughout the world.
It is also interesting to see how different cultures artistically represent the cross. I particularly admire the intricacy of some of the Ethiopian Coptic versions. In Ethiopia, more than half of the population consider themselves Coptic Orthodox Christians (Wikipedia).