The Shell Seekers

The shell craft production goes through many phases. The first of them is the catching, the collecting of shells brought to the beach, offered by the sea as a natural process of renovation, reproduction and return, to restart a new cycle; that means, the animal inside the shell dies or is eaten by another animal in a natural progression, and the emptied shell is brought to the beach by sea waves. Human beings collect it as a raw material for their work, in constant relation with nature.

The catching of shells is made, majority-wise, by low-income people, who make their living from the selling of their craft, with their children participating in the catching. The snatched material is sold to the artisans, who seldom make the catching. Some collectors, however, clean the shells and create necklaces that they will sell on the beaches.

The collected material is sold by liter or by the kilo. The catching is made throughout the year, but are more abundant in the “virada da lua”, the growing moon, the time of the sea receding.

Text: Margarete Cruz Pereira, Professor of Universidade Federal doEspírito Santo, UFES, Master in Theater, UNIRIO, member of Comissão Espíritossantense de Folclore.