Exploring the culture of cowrie shells

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 11:48 AM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As the Savannah Black Heritage Festival continues to celebrate culture all month, a local museum is offering a hands-on experience to connect to the culture.

The Savannah African Art Museum has launched a new exhibit this month called “culture, currency, and continuity” to highlight the significance of cowrie shells.

The small shells are seen as symbols of African culture around the world -- in art, clothing, and jewelry. But the history of cowrie shells... goes much deeper than fashion.

“Cowrie shells are not indigenous to Africa. They come from the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are a type of sea snail that has gained importance in forms of currency, spiritual protection, as well as in terms of fertility and status. So often the elite or wealthy would have an abundance of cowrie shells to show their status.”

You have a chance to enhance your museum experience this month with an upcoming educational workshop.

“We’re going to make a little necklace on a little cord. We’re going to have cowrie shells, beads and some other things.”

The museum will provide everything you need to create your own cowrie shell necklace. From the shells themselves, to colored beads and other designs, you can create a necklace to match your own style and learn a little more about the significance behind the choices you make.

The workshop is free, but space is limited so reservations are required via: www.savannahafricanartmuseum.org.

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