The Beauty of Cowry Shells

The Beauty of Cowry Shells

Jan 15, 2018Abi oye

The work of visual artist Simone Leigh has been inspiring us a lot recently. These beautiful porcelain cowry shells that she makes are kind of meta, as the word Porcelain itself actually derives from the Italian word for Cowry shell (Porcellana) due to the similar translucent appearance.

These tiny shells are powerful in so many ways. According to myth if you tell your wishes to a cowry and throw it into the ocean, they will be granted. 

Known as symbols of fertility due to their similarity to female reproductive organs, they have also been used as divination tools for centuries in West Africa, China and India. Cowries were the worlds first currency, the first item to be used as a means of exchange, which is why they still represent wealth and prosperity for many cultures, and are still used extensively in jewellery and home decor.

Yoruba, Nigeria: A sacred object, called ‘house of the head’
The Yoruba in Nigeria believe that the entire individuality, spirituality and fate of a person resides in its head. The cowries symbolise wealth, welfare, happiness and health.


Yoruba Ibeji Dolls

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