Tahitian Shell Necklaces: Meanings & Symbolism

Tahitian Shell Necklace Meanings

Meanings of the tahitian shell necklace

Tahitian shell necklaces are emblematic figures of Polynesian culture and are often given to people leaving the island as a farewell gift. Made with unique materials, they have significant cultural importance in Polynesia due to their unique properties.

But what are the meanings of the Tahitian shell necklace? What is its history and virtues? The Tahiti necklace has an interesting spiritual side and is often used for events like weddings or sacred rites.

The tahitian shell necklace is a symbol of farewell

You have surely heard of Tahiti necklaces! Whether they are made of flowers, shells, pearls, or stones, they are commonly given to travelers. No, the Tahitian necklace is not just any ornament! Handcrafted, it can be made of different materials and can be of various colors.

Tahiti: an island like no other

Tahiti... This island with a sweet, paradisiacal name surely evokes something in you! With its long fine sandy beaches, endless sunsets, and charming little huts, it's a true paradise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Belonging to French Polynesia, Tahiti is composed of two parts (Nui and Iti). It is a mountainous and volcanic island, surrounded by a coral reef. This is why fish and all kinds of shells thrive there in peace!

Shells in polynesia

Due to its diverse landscapes and its fauna and flora, Tahitian biodiversity is very varied! There are many endemic species (only present in this location), which are unfortunately threatened by pollution and diseases.

The shells in Tahiti are therefore unique, different, and especially exceptional. Notably, there are cowries, which are small white mollusks, sensational and delicate, and snail-type shells like the Turbo (particularly the Turbo Marmoratus). Well-known to locals for its fleshy shell, it is collected on the reef barrier, at the limit between the lagoon and the deep blue. These two shells are mainly used for making all kinds of jewelry.

The tahitian ornament

You probably have a pretty precise idea of what a Tahitian shell necklace is. However, there are hundreds of models, made with different materials. They can be of various lengths but are generally very long and heavily adorned, descending to the middle of the belly.

  • The Turbo Necklace: This small (3cm) exotic shell has a fleshy, relief shell with small spines. It can be white, beige, green, or orange. It is said to have a more spiritual and religious meaning.
  • The Cowrie Necklace: Porcelains are white, beige, or brown mollusks, with a small opening. It is said to symbolize luxury and richness of spirit.

The meaning of this shell necklace

Finally, let's get to the main topic of this article: the meaning of Tahitian shell necklaces! Whether made of cowries, turbos, or other chic and cute mollusks, they generally have the same symbolism when leaving. Indeed, it evokes a return to the Fenua (homeland) in the not-too-distant future.

Given to any Polynesian leaving Tahiti or its islands, this ritual is performed by all family members and friends who come to say goodbye. This tradition is a sign of respect and honor and reflects the feelings people have. Far from being a sign of goodbye, it's a sign of "see you later," encouraging the person to return.

But they are sometimes given to travelers leaving the island, then showing deep affection. That's why you might find yourself adorned with dozens of necklaces when you leave Tahiti!

A shell jewel or a lucky decoration

This shell-made accessory could well bring a sunny touch to your interior decoration, with the scent of Tiare flowers and a paradisiacal vacation. Whether hung on a door or suspended in your living room, it's an object of great value, which will bring you luck.

As a costume jewel, you could also wear it around your neck or wrapped around your wrist. White, beige, or brown, it will easily match all your outfits, adding a mysterious and exotic touch.

Other meanings of the tahiti necklace

You now know that necklaces with Tahitian shells are real farewell gifts for travelers leaving the island and the locals. More than a goodbye, they invite you to return and remember. But that's not their only meaning, as they are also used during parties or sacred rites. They even have some medicinal virtues that we are eager to discover...

The animal meaning of this shell necklace

Polynesian shell jewelry alludes to the Hermit Crab, which changes shells as it grows. Indeed, this little animal uses empty shells to protect itself from predators, sometimes displacing other animals! Thus, the Tahitian necklace encompasses the various shells the Hermit Crab has passed through. This ties into the spiritual meaning we will discuss later.

The role of religion and spirituality

Tahitian shell necklaces are inspired by the rosary, a well-known religious object that most civilizations have (notably Christians). But it especially recalls the theory of multiple states of being: the soul is eternal and is represented by the cord that unites all the shells. This type of jewelry therefore has a true religious significance, but also an important spiritual symbolism.

The medicinal virtues of the tahitian shell necklace

The necklaces of Tahiti have powerful medicinal virtues. Indeed, it is said that some doctors, voodoo practitioners, and even charlatans in Polynesia cured the sick with shells. Similar to lithotherapy (which claims to heal with crystals and stones), this inexact science would work as a real remedy based on incantations, songs, and other surprising rites! And today, massages with shells are coming back into fashion... Giving you some ideas!

Tahiti necklaces at weddings and parties

Its originality goes hand in hand with its elegance. In some Tahitian or Polynesian villages, young brides dress in shell ornaments that enhance their outfit and illuminate their beauty... Generally, these are discreet necklaces and not long, thick, and multiple like those that might be given to travelers or locals leaving the island.

During parties and other festive activities, locals and tourists sometimes wear necklaces with white flowers. With their pleasant smell, Tiare flowers are an emblem of the island.

Wear a tahitian shell necklace at home!

You now know the main virtues, properties, and meanings of Tahitian shell necklaces! Delicately assembled, these ornaments are true symbols of farewell and are given to travelers or people leaving the island. So take advantage of your next vacation to visit Polynesia, where you will be superbly welcomed (with a Tiare flower necklace, by the way)!

And if traveling is not part of your current plans, there is always a solution, less expensive and just as authentic: get a Tahitian shell necklace in France. Whether it's to strut on the beach, in the streets of your city, at a wedding, or to please your soulmate... Any occasion is a good one!

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