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The Meaning of Cowrie Shells

Aug 28, 2008
The cowrie shell has many uses and meanings. It has shown up in the form of money, jewelry, and even 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 they were thought of as wealth.

The back side of a cowrie shell resembles a female sexual organ. The front side is shaped like the abdomen of a pregnant woman. The meaning is not erotic, but represents a miricle of life. This unique design of the cowrie shell is one main reason why this shell has maintained so much popularity throughout history.

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, and South and North America, the cowrie symbolized the power of destiny and prosperity. Thought of as the mouth of Orsisas, it also is believed to have taught stories of humility and respect.

However you interpret these tiny white shells they are a fascinating, unique addition to your wardrobe. Whether 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, fashion statement.
About the Author
Wayne Kiltz is the founder and owner of Africa Imports. You can find over 100 other articles on African art, culture, and fashion, along with African proverbs,
recipes, and African business opportunities at http://www.africaimports.com/
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