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Africa, Cowrie Shell Necklace

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Africa, Cowrie Shell Necklace (obverse) Africa, Cowrie Shell Necklace (reverse)

This necklace from cowrie shells was made in Africa, supposedly during the late 19th or early 20th century. Cowries circulated as money in Africa well into the 20th century. Cowries were worked up to adornments or used as decorations for weapons and garments over centuries. Moreover, cowries were said to have magical power especially to guarantee a long life and female fertility. To wear cowrie jewelry guaranteed this magic; besides, it was also a comfortable way to always have some money at hand.

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Signet Sunflower Foundation