About African Cowrie Shells

The ever popular cowrie shell has many uses and meanings. It has shown up in the form of money, jewelry, and religious accessories in almost every part of the world. Found in the islands of the Indian Ocean, the cowrie shell soon gained popularity throughout much of ancient Africa. Its influence, however, also spread to China, where it was used as a form of currency to such an extent that the Chinese used its shape to form their pictograph for money. Today excavations have found some of the money of ancient China in the form of brass and silver cowrie shells. Wherever the cowrie shells were found, it seems as if it has been symbolized.

Spiritually, according to African legend, if you are attracted to cowrie shells you could be family to an ocean spirit of wealth and earth. It also represents Goddess protection which is very powerful and connected with the strength of the ocean. Throughout Africa, South and North America, the cowrie symbolized the power of destiny and prosperity. Thought of as the mouth of Orsisas, it is also believed to have taught stories of humility and respect.

The shells of cowries are almost always smooth and shiny and more or less egg-shaped, with a long, narrow, slit-like opening. All cowry shells have a porcelain-like shine and many have colorful patterns. The shells of cowries (especially Cypraea moneta) were used for centuries as a currency in Africa. The Ghanaian unit of currency known as the Ghanaian cedi was named after cowry shells. Starting over three thousand years ago, cowry shells, or copies of the shells, were used as Chinese currency. They were also used as means of exchange in India.

Cowry shells are also worn as jewelry or otherwise used as ornaments or charms. They are viewed as symbols of womanhood, fertility, birth and wealth. The symbolism of the cowry shell is associated with the appearance of its underside: the lengthwise opening makes the shell look like a vulva or an eye.

However you interpret these beautiful white shells, they are a fascinating, unique addition to your wardrobe. Whether used in jewelry, or in crafts, or in any other use you can imagine, these shells are sure to add an exotic feel of Africa and make an excellent, one of a kind, statement

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