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Seashells are beautiful in and of themselves. But humans are seldom content with nature. For thousands of years, they have been redesigning shells by painting them, making incisions and carvings, or adding some element such as a gold or silver frame. Whether driven by utilitarian, artistic or religious reasons, the act of altering such natural objects whilst preserving their form and structure allows humans to leave their imprint. Long after they are gone, memories of their life and times live on.

Conch shell with incised designs, A.D. 250–900
Guatemala, Mexico
Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery

Nautilus shell of mother-of-pearl carved with floral tendrils,
Northern Netherlands
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum.

The Hunt, 300–100 BC
China, late Warring States period (475–221 BC) to Western Han dynasty
(202 BC–AD 9)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Ritual Water Vessel for Worshiping Vishnu, c. 11th century
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Nautilus cup with silver–gilt frames, c. 1590
Low Countries, anonymous maker
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Two carved shells. c. 1650–c. 1700
Cornelis Bellekin (attributed to)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Oyster shell with sea figures and a rock with plants, c. 1700
by Cornelis Bellekin (born c. 1625–died after 1697 but before 1711)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

~ Barista Uno

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