We have relaunched a ready to wear line inspired by the ancient west African symbol of wealth and power ‘the cowry’.

We debuted our in-house created cowry print created and dyed by hand. Other techniques employed include hand embroidery made by local craftsmen. Our fabrics are 100 percent cotton and sourced locally in Nigeria.

For the longest time cowries were a form of currency globally. However, in west Africa they also held cultural significance.

Cowries though introduced by the Arabs to the region around the 8th century, represented wealth and authority to the locals and this led to major resistance towards the British and the French when they gradually introduced bank notes in the 19th century. ‘They felt like the demonetization of the cowries was a way to cut them off from a significant symbol of their past and culture in favour of the white man’s money’. Felix A. Iroko, 1987.

Culturally, cowries symbolize feminism and fertility. With its rounded top bearing a strong resemblance to a pregnant woman’s belly.
The cowries are a protective charm used in chains worn by hunters and warriors. It is used in some cultures as a means of divination and as the cultural exchange for a bride price.

The cowry as a form of currency may lie in West Africa’s past but it still holds a significant part of its cultural heritage.