The Mala originally used by ancient India for counting, one bead representing a certain amount, and then developed to a string of beads for chanting. They used it to help them meditate, go for deeper consciousness. For many spiritual aspirants, simply having them nearby will help to keep you connecting to a meditative state, and become more calm and concentrated.
Going back to the ancient Vedic culture, their mathematicians knew that 108 was the number of existence. The Sun’s diameter is 108 times of the diameter of the Earth, while the Sun to Earth distance is 108 times the Sun’s diameter. So everywhere you turn, there’s 108! It is a connecting, perfection and intelligence symbol.
Generally, we use 108, 54 and 18 for the Mala, and the master will be using 1080.
54 is half of 108, it is relatively portable and allow to use bigger beads for the Mala.