Showcasing my beloved Ghana through its adornments

My recent trip to my beloved Ghana moved me to start thinking about other vehicles through which I can showcase this beautiful land: adornments. I came across cowrie shells. “Cowrie” is the common name for a group of small to large sea snails. The cowrie was the shell most widely used worldwide as shell money. For a long time, the cowrie coexisted with many other forms of currency across West Africa: silver coins, gold dust, salt bars, brass and copper rods and horse-shoe shaped manillas, cloth currencies, and beads. By the 18th century, the cowrie had become the currency of choice along the trade routes of West Africa. Cowrie shells have always been highly valued by many African cultures, and have had multiple uses throughout history. They are made into jewelry and hair ornaments, sewn onto prestigious garments, used in religious rituals and as protective amulets. In Ghana cowrie shells are associated with money and wealth and their history is honored on a 20-cedi coin. Cedi, the Akan word for cowrie, is the unit of currency in Ghana. Many contemporary artists and fashion designers use cowrie shells in their designs.



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