The cowry shell (also spelled ‘cowrie’) is popular on jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets and is found in varying sizes as you can see in the picture from Wikipedia. This shell was widely used throughout the world as a form of currency.
I found another interesting use for the cowry. According to the “Shells in History” site, In China, the number of cowrie’s stuffed into the mouths of the dead was determined by how important that person was. Commoners had rice instead of shells, but the emperor had nine cowry shells in his!
Click here and get a FREE, printable coloring page of this shell.
I doubt that the Emperor had shells of this size in his mouth (the one on the left is over 4 inches long!), but Cowries come in all sizes and according to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel Island, Florida, the money cowry was the most widely circulated currency in history.
The shell on the right in my photos is a Tiger Cowry and the one on the left is a Measled Cowry. Both of mine were purchased about 20 years ago.