Mandarin Language Game online book

This can be downloaded in pdf format Chinese Characters

27. Cowrie Shell


Cowrie bèi 贝   





This stamp was issued in 1981 in a set of 8 stamps on ancient Chinese coins. 


The character for the cowrie shell has changed over time from a simple picture. 


From about 3000 years ago, cowrie shells and copies of the shells were used as money. The character has the meaning cowrie, shellfish and currency and appears in many other characters. The traditional characters for buying and selling include the traditional character for the cowrie shell. 


Suggested activities:

  • Find out the exchange rate for Chinese yuan to the British pound. 
  • Play a game of buying and selling with some shells. 

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