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The Most Precious of Cowries

Yemayá’s ocean is full of treasures, and one of them is equivalent to currency. Cowrie shells (Cypraea moneta) are used as currency in Africa, South, and East Asia.

The central component of the Lukumí Merindilogún Lukumí oracle is the priced cowrie. Cowries are also fundamental for ebó because they help to entice Eshú to improve people’s life and support evolution through the various stages of spiritual life.

In Brazil, the Candonblé refers to cowries as buxios. For them, cowries are also the mouth of the Orixas. For Palo Mayombe, the Tiger cowrie is used as the central part of the Nkobo divination. The use of these shells goes beyond Afro-descendant religions. In India, cowries are used for prophecy by the astrologers of Kerala.

For every person who understands cowries’ value in religious life, hundreds don’t have the foggiest idea of their value. For them, cowries are decorative and collectors’ items.

The most expensive cowrie ever sold had a value of $50,000! If you think of the average cost of a regular Cypraea moneta, that is the equivalent of going to Amazon and purchasing 769,822.940 cowries— if you can get, buy them at $12.99 for a lot of 200. That’s enough cowries to do a 9.5 miles straight line. Maybe you are a better negotiator than I and can get more cowries for each dollar.

In any case, I leave you to ponder on the wonders of cowries and to enjoy a bit of visual eye candy and a video with a pretty cool cowrie collection.

Keep your eye on the treasures of the great Yeye of the oceans!


Oní Yemayá Ashabá

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