About Cowrie Shells
Cowrie shell, is the common name for a group of small to large sea snail shells. Throughout history many people have found rounded, shiny, porcelain-like cowrie shells pleasing to look at and to handle. In fact, the term "porcelain" derives from the old Italian term for the cowrie shell (porcellana) due to their similar translucent appearance. Shells of certain cowrie species have historically been used as currency in several parts of the world, as well as being used extensively in jewelry, and for other decorative and ceremonial purposes.
Cowrie shells (as well as other shells such as dentallium) would have arrived on the Plains of North America via the ancient intercontinental trade network. Long after manufactured trade goods were available, cowrie shells, as well as other sea shells, remained a popular garment decoration for Native American regalia - are are still so today.
The species referred to as "money cowry", was the most widely used worldwide as shell money. These shells were widely used in many Pacific and Indian Ocean countries as shell money before coinage was in common usage.