Cowrie Shell Necklace

Cowrie Shell Necklace

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Description (Brief)
One (1) cowrie shell necklace with one hundered and eleven (111) cowrie shells
Seashells circulated as a medium of exchange in Asia, Africa, Oceania, and North America. The cowrie shell, in particular, was a form of currency in West Africa during the transatlantic slave trade. West African cultures valued cowrie shells from the Indian Ocean and they became an accepted form of currency in the region. An estimated 344,000 people were captured in Africa and transported directly to mainland North America by 1776 and cowries facilitated these transactions alongside coins, manillas, and other local objects of exchange.
Object Name
alternative currency
date made
Physical Description
shell (overall material)
string (overall material)
white (overall color)
yellow (overall color)
holed then strung (overall production method/technique)
overall: 27 cm x 19 cm x 2 cm; 10 5/8 in x 7 15/32 in x 25/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
The Chase Manhattan Bank
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
Many Voices, One Nation
Many Voices, One Nation
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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