Girl's belt of cowrie shells

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Belt, collected c.1898-1906
West Africa, Nigeria, Calabar
Cowrie shells and string

Donated by Dr P Rattray, 1913
Museum number 1913-137-72

The cowrie shell was the most prevalent currency in Africa up to the 1850s. The belt has been identified as being "worn by fatting room girls" who were being prepared for marriage. It would have been paid as a form of bride-wealth by the prospective groom to the bride's parents to secure the marriage.

Girl's belt of cowrie shells
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