07
Feb
17

setting bait for cowries

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We secured a coconut frond to the bottom of the sea using large rocks.

The aim is to test the veracity of the assertion made in the ninth century by Suleiman the Merchant, who had heard that in order to fish for cowries the people of the Maldives put fronds from a coconut tree into the water (see page 23 of Hogendorn and Johnson’s classic study of the cowrie trade – highly recommended). Only one informant here has mentioned this method to us so we are wondering whether it really existed.

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2 Responses to “setting bait for cowries”


  1. 1 Georges HAOUR
    February 7, 2017 at 01:54

    Cowries constitute a unique currency: they are eatable….How tasty are they ?
    papou

    • 2 ach
      February 7, 2017 at 02:00

      We have never found anybody who has eaten them, although that argument has been made by French colleagues working on the Kenyan coast. My feeling is that it was probably to much hassle for people to bother. Their shells are very tough and difficult to crush and you can’t just winkle out the meat as you would, for example, for a bigorneau.


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About this blog

This blog has been set up to chart the activities and research findings of two projects led by Anne Haour, an archaeologist from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The first project, called Crossroads, brings together a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are hoping to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years and to understand how population movements and craft techniques shaped the area's past.

The second project, called Cowries, examines the money cowrie, a shell which served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, and in medieval times most especially in the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. We hope to understand how this shell was sourced and used in those two areas.

These investigations are funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7) and by the Leverhulme Trust as a Research Project Grant. The opinions posted here are however Anne Haour's own!

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