International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Importance of Cowrie Shells in Pre-Colonial Yoruba land South Western Nigeria : Orile- Keesi as a Case Study

Cowrie shells played important roles in the day to day activities of the Yoruba in the pre-colonial period. In order to establish this fact, Orile-Keesi, an abandoned settlement, was used as a case study among the Egba in Yorubaland. The general belief is that cowrie shells were only used as a medium of exchange among the Yoruba of South western Nigeria in the pre-colonial period. However, this investigation reveals that they were used for many purposes. For example, they were used in divination, to send symbolic messages, to prepare medicinal herbs, to decorate musical instruments among others. The investigation reveals that today, its importance is growing wane as a result of westernization and civilization.

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