Cowrie shells have been valued by many African cultures going back centuries, and served multiple purposes. The small shells are both durable and easily portable and have been used for ornamentation including hair or garment accessories and jewelry. They have also been used in religious rituals and as charms or protective amulets. Up until the late 19th century, they were also accepted as a form of currency.
In June of 2019, two cowrie shells were uncovered in a pit near the Angela Site. The dorsal surfaces of both were removed, indicating that they were attached to clothing or worn as jewelry. It is possible they once belonged to enslaved Africans who lived on the Ambler plantation.
This necklace is handmade in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Measurement: Approximately 18″ in length
Material: Cowrie shells on a cotton cord