Ojire Moda Afro: Jewellery of the Ancestry

A few weeks ago whilst walking through the Santo Antonio street fair in Salvador, I came across Ojire, a black female artisan from São Paulo, selling her beautiful handmade jewellery, and I was compelled to ask to take a picture… What came next was a spontaneous photoshoot showcasing some of my favourite pieces from the Ojire Moda Afro collection for my blog!

Tenho um carinho por cada peça. Elas são todas unicas não repito, unicas como cada pessoa. / I have a fondness for each piece. They are all unique, not repeated, unique as each person.” Ojire shared.

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Hoje crio por coleção. defino um tema e sigo em pesquisa , desenvolvo crio a partir dai. / Today I create by collection. I define a theme and I continue in research, I develop it from here.” – Ojire

For Ojire, who’s name is derived from Yoruba, the cowry is not just a pretty shell, or fashion symbol. Her connection with the cowrie is personal and spiritual as its a connection with her African ancestry, and a coin used in as part of her Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé. She works with them one by one and puts in her energy and respect for the ancestral relationship. Each shell is given individual attention throughout the process of her jewellery creation; including washing and opening them as part of her process. The cowrie in Candomblé means represents prosperity and happiness.

Cada peça me conecta com a Minha ascendência, e em cada coleção eu descubro um pouco de mim. / Each piece connect me with my ancestry, and in each collection I discover a little of myself.” – Ojire

Ancestralidade of the cowrie shell

The cowrie, or cowry shell was one of the most successful and universal forms of currency in the world. In West Africa though, the humble shell worked its way into the cultural fiber, taking on a deeper symbolic and ritualistic meaning that has never been entirely lost.

By the 18th century, the cowrie had become the currency of choice along the trade routes of West Africa. It conserved its status as a means of payment, and a symbol of wealth and power, until the 20th century.

Cowries no longer serve as currency in West Africa, however traces remain of their history as a form of money. In Ghana (my country of origin), the national currency is the ‘cedi’, which is the Twi for “cowrie”. The coin for 20 cedi featured the image of the beloved shell in 1991″ Source culturesOfWestAfrica.com

Photoshoot in Santo Antonio with some of my favourite pieces from Ojire’s collection

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Special thanks to Luise Reis (lawyer and women’s rights activist) who kindly offered to be photographer for the afternoon – there’s great power in collaboration!

Like what you see? A few friends/followers have already placed their orders (delivery outside Brazil isn’t possible so email, or DM if you’re based outside Brazil and would like to order through me). Follow @ojire_modaafro for more beautiful handcrafted jewellery!

Hope you love Ojire’s pieces as much as I do! Let me know your thoughts in the comment box!

Sending positive vibes from Bahia!

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Please support my craft by crediting and including links to this blog and my social media should you use any of these pictures from this post. All copyrights belong to ©Travelmakerkai unless stated otherwise.

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I’m always on the look out for local photographers to collaborate with, and influencers to interview for the blog… Interested? Contact me and let’s get creative!

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