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 Shells are collected for many purposes. In Bengal, mother-of-pearl was collected for various craft items, especially trinkets such as bangles. In recent years a large industry has grown up in the south with Madras as its main centre. Here decorative hangins, mobiles, lampshades and screens are made from small shells pierced and threaded onto strings. Large cowries are incised with designs, pictures and greetings using the scraperboard technique to expose the white calcium beneath a mauve outer surface. A few families glue together combinations of shells, exploiting their natural form to produce human figures, animals and birds which are similar to those on sale at European seaside resorts.


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