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Lafalaise Dion: The Queen of Cowrie Shells Ornaments

Lafalaise Dion: The Queen of Cowrie Shells Ornaments

Lafalaise Dion: The Queen of Cowrie Shells Ornaments

Lafalaise Dion is a designer and visual artist from Man, the 18 mountains city in Cote d’Ivoire. She is based in Abidjan and her work is driven by her quest to reconnect with her ancestral power. Lafalaise grew up in a society where she was taught to reject, to demonize African spirituality and mystical practices. As she grew up, she felt the fear of anything that emanated from African spirituality. The gods, the practices, created in her a psychosis. However, she kept hidden in herself an unexplained admiration for the cowries. She could not explain how the diabolical shell could attract her as much. A few years ago, her curiosity as a journalist pushed her to get closer to spirituality and get away from religion. As she read, researched and meditated, she discovered African spirituality and the power of the cowries. She learned that the history of her people was inseparable from that of the cowries. Cowries were significant in West Africa, they were used as currency, object of divination, communication link between men and spirits. The cowries represented wealth, power, protection, woman, creation, femininity, and sexuality. Its curved back recalls the belly of a pregnant woman. It is a symbol of fertility. The split that separates the two parts, represents the duality. The power of this shell is immense.

It is said that it originated from the Maldives. It was introduced in West Africa in the 8th century as a bargaining chip by Arab traders. It was thus adopted by the Dan people who knew how to recognize its power. Moreover, for the Dan, people from the western region of Cote d’Ivoire, cowries are still part of their lives, they are their protectors, and the messengers of geniuses. That is why the Dan use them to give strength to their masks, and dancers. Lafalaise Dion fight for centuries, is their people have been told their story for them. Their gods, religions, traditions, rituals have been demonized and fetishes carried away. In replacement they were told how and who to pray to, how to dress, and what to eat. Their existence has been dictated for too many centuries. Today, knowledge is within reach and she is seizing it. Lafalaise clearly believes it is time for black Africans to reconcile with their heritage and reclaim their culture, spirituality, and gods and embrace it. Therefore, Lafalaise is writing the story once again and she is advocating for a reappropriation of the black African culture using ornaments created using cowries as her medium. Below, we are highlighting some of the cowrie ornaments created by Lafalaise Dion.

Gnankou Set

Lafalaise Dion: The Queen of Cowrie Shells Ornaments

Mingnankou means seduction in Dan. This new limited series is here to celebrate your love for yourself. Gnankou set helps you to reveal your magnificence, self- acceptance and sensuality. Celebration of oneself are the key notions behind this new series.

Mami Watta

Lafalaise Dion: The Queen of Cowrie Shells Ornaments

Mami Watta is the play that pays tribute to African deities. This piece is worn in two different ways and it comes in colour white.


Lafalaise Dion: The Queen of Cowrie Shells Ornaments

Morgbin is a statement piece. It is a choker necklace inspired by the Ndebele people of South Africa; it is a reminder of the majesty of women. It is a bespoke piece to wear for all occasions and it is also custom made.

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Tanke  Belt

Tanke is a waist belt allure ideal for all your looks, you can pair its with a dress or jeans.


This piece worn by the singer Beyonce in the clip “spirit” for the album King is a celebration of women as creative, divine, mystical, and protective.

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