This week’s featured bead is an old, old, old favorite!
Loose matte cowrie shells, a favorite from Africa for centuries, get their extra-large stringing holes by grinding or breaking off the top of the shell. With the tops ground off like this, they sit nice and flat, forming a smooth border.
How big are they? Anywhere from about a half-inch by 1/3 inch, to an inch by a half-inch. (13x8x8mm to 25x20x10mm.)
These bleached shells are often sewn upside-down on beaded Nigerian wall hangings, belts and ceremonial items. We’ve been seeing these woven or sewn onto chokers, too. They’re a classic staple of macramé work, too!
Love cowries, and want more ethnic beads? Rings & Things carries a full line of African beads, both old trade beads, and newer beads made or strung in Africa for the world-wide bead trade. Trade beads are old and/or used beads, and will show varying amounts of wear. Newly-made African beads are generally handmade in small communities. Style and availability vary.