Once the most popular currency in parts of Africa, this beautiful shells have been featured in ritual practices and incorporated into clothing and jewelry for thousands of years in African cultures. Symbolically they were often associated with notions of womanhood, fertility, birth and wealth. Decades ago, parts of
West Africa used cowrie shells for counting. It was considered taboo to count animals or people so they used cowrie shells as a substitute. Cowrie shells was also used in the decision making process. They would toss the shells to give a "yes or no".