My Precious. Photography and Text by Keith R Wahl

June 23, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

My Precious

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My Precious 20220618 850_9515My PreciousThe purple glory of a Quahog Shell on display on the marsh of Aguntang Brook in Narragansett, Rhode Island

Overlapping Shells

Overlapping Shells 20220618 850_9516Overlapping ShellsOverlapping Quahog shells on the shores of Aguntang Brook in Narragansett, Rhode Island

On the Shores of Aguntang Brook

On the Shores of Aguntang Brook 20220618 850_9513On the Shores of Aguntang BrookQuahog shells left on the shores of the marsh by Agintang Brook, Narragansett, Rhode Island

The purple tint often (but not always) found in Quahog shells is the signature of the species shell. The purple has a common name of "Wampum". In brief, the term "Wampum" is the name of the white and especially purple beads.

Wampum beads are special to the attire of Native Americans of North America. They had a common European interpretation of money. This is an oversimplification of what wampum actually is. Strings of wampum are important in storytelling, ceremonies, marking of historical events, and recording treaties and other events.

The interpretation of money gave the quahog its species name: "Mercenaria mercenaria". Carl Linnaeus of Sweden coined the name based on this interpretation in 1758. "Mercenaria" is from the Latin for "wages". Having read the oversimplified association between wampum and money, he gave the name to science.

On the shore of Aguntang Brook in Narragansett, Rhode Island, we contemplate this find of a trove of purple lined quahog shells. The find is quite precious and we respect the shells and their history in these photos.


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© Keith R Wahl, Made From RI/Made From RI Gallery, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Keith R Wahl and Made From RI/Made From RI Gallery with appropriate and specific direction to the original.