Many of us saw seashell, but everybody does not know where they came from or what they are. A seashell is a part of an animal’s body. Human beings have skeletons inside the body; likewise, mollusks have the shell on their external anatomy. Mollusks are any soft-bodied invertebrates of the phylum, such as snails, octopus, and clams, etc., who have external skeletons. When the animal dies, the shell is left behind, and the soft pieces of its body are either eaten by other animals or simply rot over time. The seashell is typically composed of calcium carbonate or chitin. Seashells are intricately beautiful as they are designed by nature. Humans used seashells for many different purposes, right from tools to decorative objects. In some Indian communities’ seashells have religious importance. The scallop shell is considered to be the symbol of Saint James the Great in Christianity. Left-handed shells of Turbinella pyrum (the sacred shankha) are considered to be holy to the Hindu God Vishnu. The scientists follow the system of classifying seashells into seven classes. They are Gastropoda – gastropods, Bivalvia – bivalves, Scaphopoda, Aplacophora, Polyplacophora, Monoplacophora, and Cephalopoda. Each class is further subdivided into species. Gastropods and bivalves are the categories in which maximum seashells fall. Beachcombers collect empty seashells for trading purposes. To fulfill the high demand and for commercial trading, seashells have been collected alive in bulk and then killed and cleaned. Hence, it creates a substantial negative impact on local ecosystems and sometimes can significantly reduce the distribution of rare species.
Seashells have been used for many different purposes like musical instruments, jewellery, decorating furniture, inlay work, and so on. It is used as a wind instrument for hundreds of years. The shells of giant sea snails are used, as trumpets, by cutting off the tip of the spire altogether or by cutting a hole in the spire of the shell. Since ancient times, seashells have been used in forms of adornment. Mother of pearl was historically primarily a seashell product. Usually, seashells are used by cutting into different kinds of shapes or by drilling or making a hole so that they can be threaded like beads. Various types of jewellery such as necklaces, earrings, pendants, rings, and hair combs, etc. are made by using elegant seashells. For inlay work, coloured and iridescent shells have been used to decorate walls, furniture, and boxes. The seashells are arranged to make patterns that have been used to decorate furniture and mirror frames. Every region has different types of seashells. Hence, the designs and the quality of the seashell products vary according to the seashell type and on Artisans. Mostly Artists follow different kinds of techniques to stand out among other products.
Ms. Namrata Sardesai is well–known artist residing in Goa for the past six years. Goa is one of India’s most popular tourist destinations and also well-known for its variety of handicrafts. Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year for its beaches, places of worship, and world heritage architecture. Ms. Namrata learned these art techniques from the workshop organized by the Goa Government to empower women artists. She used to collect seashells from beaches in Goa and make crafts out of them. The seashell products will not get stained quickly, and they can be preserved for a lifetime at home.