Small bracelet made of cowrie shells, threaded on cotton.

Used throughout Africa, cowrie shells from the Indian Ocean were brought across the desert via Chad, in abundance, during the Middle Ages. They were exchanged as currency for gold and slaves. Cowrie shells have a variety of symbolic meanings in different areas of Africa. In the East and Central Africa they are valued as a symbol of fertility and in some cases prosperity. In North Africa cowrie shells recall the shape of the eye and are tied to the necks and wrists of children with the belief that this gives protection from harm by the all-seeing eye.

Collection Information

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