Shells, starfishes, and sea urchins in Ayurveda

Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Wed Jun 9 19:17:39 UTC 1999

A patron is interested in interpreting the import and export
statistics for various sorts of shells in the trade of India.  I told
him that I was under the impression that powdered and/or calcined
conchshells are used in Ayurveda. Could someone tell me where I can
tell him to go to find out these uses?  Also, are there such uses for
other molluscs and for ichonoderms such as starfishes and sea urchins?
 He is interested only in the uses of the shells of the animals, not
of their flesh.

I also said amongst the economic uses of conchshells were to make
ritual trumpets and libation vessels and to make bangles, especially
in Bengal where they are required for Hindu married women.  There is
also a certain amount of ornamental shellcraft and the sale of the
shelves just as attractive objects.  Can anyone suggest other economic
uses of shells besides these?  (The use of cowries is irrelevant
because they are a different line in the statistics.)



Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian
Southern Asia Section
Asian Division
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732
fax 202-707-1724
email: athr at

The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the
Library of Congress.

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