The Commerce

Shell's Paradise - Yesterday

The commercialization of the shell craft was made to serve the tourism industry, with the city of Guarapari as the main site, which, in the 70s-80s, became the biggest tourist destination in the state. In that city, the shell necklaces were sold in small craft stores, or on consignment in cloth stores.

The majority of sales, however, were made by wanderers who spread the pieces on towels or rustic sidewalk stands. They could also be found in the capital of the state, Vitória, in the souveniers stores in the Convento da Penha (1), in food markets, and in downtown stores.

The most interesting sales technique, however, and the most traditional, was made by the so-called “mangueadores” people walking down the crowded beaches carrying shell necklaces in improvised hangers, or in their arms and necks. This sale practice is still active today.

Sales peaked in the 90s, when people departing from Piúma usually filled six to ten buses daily, with about 400 persons, in order to sell their crafts in the southern region of the country, and in Argentina, Uruguai and Chile. In the larger cities the artisans established permanent sale routes.

The shell artcraft finally attracted the attention of society, scholars and researchers, being recognized as an artistic expression deserving the attention of the academic community. Winning the media attention, they became a symbol of the capixaba identity.

(1) Convento da Penha - Penha Convent (1558) is located in Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, Brazil, on the top of a high mountain overlooking the twin cities of Vitória and Vila Velha.