Africa to Asia, Cowrie Shell Cypraea annulus

The cowrie currency was the longest and most widely used currency of all times. In China cowries were used as money already some 3000 years ago. From there they spread over Thailand and Vietnam into the Indian subcontinent; finally they came into use also on the Philippines, the Maldives, in New Guinea, the South Seas and in Africa. Cowries are sea shells living in more than 200 varieties in warm oceans. They owed their popularity as money to their durability and manageability. They were easy to transport and forgery-proof. Besides, their nice and shiny surface made them popular as embellishments.