Seashell is an exoskeleton of marine mollusks such as snails, clams, oysters, etc., which is a hard outer protective layer. These seashells are formed in layers and are composed of calcium carbonate with a less quantity of protein (not more than 2%). Seashells are normally found in beach drift, which is natural waste matter left along strandlines on beaches by the waves and the tides. Some of these seashells such as oyster shells are used as soil conditioner in horticulture. Shells of Turbinella pyrum (the holy shanka) are reflected to be sacred to the god Vishnu.
In olden days seashells like cowry shells and tusk shells were using as a currency in Arab and North Western North America for many centuries because of the durability and easy to carry. Cowries were habitually treated as genuine fertility charms. In some of the south Indian states these cowries are used to make astrological predictions. The moche civilization of ancient Peru worshipped the sea and depicted shells in their traditional art. Shells are available in a wide range of colours, shades, tones and textures.
Seashells were used by humans for many different reasons from pre-historic period. The shells of large sea snail (cypraecassis rufa) were historically and still it is used to make precious cameos. Seashells play an important role Hindu tradition, whereas the bangles made of conch shells are the traditional bangles worn by married Bengali women. Seashell art and crafts are unique form, which is done by using natural treasures found on the seashore. This unique art form helps to translate innovative ideas in to product creation to a new height. In India the seashell craft is traced from the period of Portuguese in Goa and other coastal areas where doors and architectures are decorated with seashells. Seashells are also used to make ornaments, musical instruments and crafts such as chandeliers, table lampshades, flowerpots, door wreath decoration and mirror with seashell frame. The seashell mirror frame is a very special craft, which beautify the normal mirror to excellent one.
Mrs.Sashmitha Das from Puri, a well-known craftswoman who is trained by a senior craftsman Mr. Japher when she was in her high school that is on 1993. Later on she continued this seashell art by helping her husband who is also a craftsman. The group of artisans who were trained by senior craftswoman will finish 30 to 35 big mirrors in one day.
Mr. Devprasadh Das who lives in Puri, Orissa is a renowned craftsman who has 20 years of experience in seashell craft. Before this seashell craft was done in Tamilnaadu and then they were selling them in Puri but later on he started doing seashell craft by giving training to some of the localites. He use to sell seashell craft in other places such as Vishakhapatnam and Delhi etc.,