Subject: cowry indicates transpacific contacts From: email@example.com (Yuri Kuchinsky) Date: 1997/09/22 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Newsgroups: sci.archaeology,sci.anthropology,alt.folklore.science, soc.culture.native Greetings, So now I have finally got hold of Jackson's original 1917 book. J. Wilfrid Jackson, SHELLS AS EVIDENCE OF THE MIGRATIONS OF EARLY CULTURE, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1917. I've now looked at the relevant parts and it seems like Jackson has a solid case. There's very good documentation for both a find (at least one) of cowries in good precolumbian context, and for their identification by qualified experts. So here we are. I'm sure some of our critics will now have a fun time with these long neglected findings. I haven't yet looked at Jackson's other theories (such as the royal purple that he also looks at in his book) but this one seems solid. It seems like things are turning out exactly as Carter portrayed them. This very important information has been sitting on the library shelf and people never seemed to have bothered to read it, or to read it carefully, at least. I have the highest regard for Carter. Outside of his early peopling of the Americas theories, I've yet to see a single one of his theories and claims not to be well founded. I've investigated a few already. His precolumbian chickens in America theories are solid. In fact, there're very interesting rumours around of a N. American precolumbian site with well documented chicken bones... According to Jackson, cowries (C. Moneta) do not occur naturally anywhere near the Americas, yet they are found in many areas of the Old World, but mostly between the East Coast of Africa and Australia. Some of them also occur on some of the Pacific islands. In his book, on p. 124, Jackson gives a world map showing the above distribution. On p. 125 he gives another world map showing the distribution of the use of cowries. This map shows their wide use everywhere in Africa, around the Mediterranean (this was actually a shell sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love), and as far as Russia and Scandinavia. They were also widely used in South China, and in many places in the South East Asia. They were ancient magical objects greately valued by peoples around the world. What certainly strengthens Jackson's theories are his abundant descriptions of great many complex and very important tribal rituals associated with C. Moneta around the world. These rituals are remarkably similar in many geographical areas -- including in America! So it's not like he found some odd objects that may be intrusive, and out of place and out of context. Everything that he says makes sense and fits together. The cowries must have arrived to America together with the associated rituals. And this is precisely what the Native tribal histories tell us. As I already mentioned, C. Moneta were the sea shells sacred to Aphrodite, and had many ritual fertility and sexual connotations. They were good luck charms for women, given to girls at early age. Such uses of these shells, incredible as it may sound, are consistent in great many areas of the world. Surely this is very significant, and may relate to earlier times when female deities were as important as male gods in popular religions. Here are more particulars. Jackson writes, The money-cowry (Cypraea moneta) is, and has been for centuries, a sacred object among the Ojibwa and Menomini Indians of North America, and is employed in initiation ceremonies of the Grand Medicine Society. The use of this particular cowry by these Indians is of peculiar interest; in the first place; owing to it being _alien to the American continent_, and in the second place, in view of its intimate association with so many remarkable and fantastic beliefs and practices in different parts of the Old World. (p. 184) Jackson says that the traditions associated with cowries were believed by the Ojibwa to have been given to them originally by their hero-god Minabozho. (p. 185) He describes in detail the rituals associated with these shells, having to do with the death and resurrection of the candidate being initiated. Jackson illustrates parallels with similar practices in China, where these shells were also used in funeral contexts. Jackson writes that rice also figured in such rituals in China (cowries and rice grains were placed into the mouths of the dead). It is interesting that the Native Americans also used rice together with cowries, but they used the wild rice. Further, Jackson also writes about The apparent identity in the spitting out of cowries [ritual] by the Togo priests of West Africa and by the medicine men of the Ojibwa and Menomini Indians... (p. 186) Jackson also writes about the close parallels in association of the money-cowry with the "medicine bags" both in America, and in the Sierra Leone, in Africa. This is what he writes about the archaeological find also mentioned by Carter, Some interesting evidence of the early use of the money-cowry in North America is contained in an exhaustive account on THE ABORIGINAL SITES ON TENNESSEE RIVER, by Mr. Clarence B. Moore. In his description of the Roden Mounds, Marshall County, Alabama, this author informs us that in Burial #44, well in the body of mound A, were the remains of a skull, near which were fragments of a large marine univalve, and five shells, some much decayed, which had been pierced for stringing, like beads. These are pronounced by Dr. H. A. Pilsbry, the well-known American conchologist, to be examples of the money-cowry, _Cypraea moneta_, of Eastern Seas. Such shells have never been recorded before from an aboriginal mound in the United States. The careful investigation of the Roden mounds indicated that they had been built before their makers had any intercourse with white persons. The presence of the cowries, therefore, is of special interest. (pp. 186-7; he cites Jorn. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad., 2nd Ser., xvi., pt. ii, 1915 for Moore's report.) Further, Jackson writes that the identification of these shells had also been confirmed by another of America's leading conchologists of the time, Dr. W. H. Dall. Jackson also writes about other cases where money cowries were found in early Amerindian contexts. One is as the decoration on a woman's dress. According to Mr. Charles C. Willoughby, the Peabody Museum, Cambridge, Mass., contains a dress of a Cree woman, collected by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804-5, on which are four dozen cowries (see American Anthropologist, 1905, for picture of the dress). (p. 188) Also, Jackson writes about his careful analysis of an illustrated publication by W. H. Holmes, ART IN SHELL OF THE ANCIENT AMERICANS (Second Annual Report of Ethnology, Washington, 1883, pp. 179-305) In this publication, some shells "exhumed from ancient graves of North America" (without a more precise attribution than that they came from the West Coast) are illustrated. Jackson draws our attention to Fig. 11, in that publication in which is portrayed, according to him, _Cypraea caput-serpentis_, an Indo-Pacific species. Also, he identifies in Fig. 12 an _Ovula (Calpurnus) verrucosa, L._. This shell, similar to the money cowry, is native to the Asian seas, and, like the previous one, does not occur naturally in America. Further, Jackson also discusses some other cases of similar shells found in ancient contexts on the West Coast. He also gives one case from South America, where cowries were also apparently highly valued. This is the cowry from Manabi, Ecuador, but it is of a species native to Panama, and does not derive from across the Pacific. So now the ball is in your court, the esteemed sceptics. Best regards, Yuri. Yuri Kuchinsky | "Where there is the Tree of Knowledge, there -=- | is always Paradise: so say the most ancient in Toronto | and the most modern serpents." F. Nietzsche ----- http://www.io.org/~yuku ----- _________________________________________________________________Click here to go one level up in the directory.