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Assinie and the Sand Dollar

The Sand Dollar is the prettiest shell you will find on the coast of Assinie. But it isn’t a shell exactly. It’s the skeleton of a flat, burrowing sea urchin. When found alive, these little guys are a dark purplish colour, much like any sea urchin. As they die, their tiny spindles fall off revealing their beautiful skeleton (called a test). This is what the waves wash up, littering the shore with rare and stunning keepsakes.

Mythological legend of the Sand Dollar is that they represent coins lost by mermaids or the people of Atlantis, the fabled city that sank below the ocean millennia ago. The mystery of how such a shell could be so detailed and elegant adds to its allure and appeal. You can't help by being drawn to it.

Biological or mythological, the spindly-petal like silhouette of the Sand Dollar has inspired many artisans in the Ivory Coast. The design can be seen on table cloths, sculptures, bogolan, cushions and fine jewelry. The Sand Dollar symbolises strength, flexibility, freedom and choosing your own path, making it a sought-after keepsake in any home.

These little gems are fun to find and make a lovely souvenir from your weekend in Assinie. We have a small collection at home, but they are too pretty to break open to reveal the ‘five little doves’ that represent peace and harmony inside. These eye-catching beauties are very intriguing, and always makes for an interesting conversation with guests.

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