Full Version: Please help me identify this shell--Buddhists believe it is special
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The spiral within this shell goes clockwise (unusual) and Buddhists believe it has special magical powers.  I found several of them at a garage sale here in Florida and took it to Bhutan in the Himalayas where religious leaders found it to be a special gift.  I'd like to buy more and better specimens but don't know where to find them for sale and what the name is.  Please email me for a photo as I have not been aboe to post the photo here--too complicated.

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Thanks for your help,

Robin Smillie
Tampa, Florida

I tryed to send a mail but it was not succesfull.

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The picture provided by Mark is indeed the "Indian Chank" or "Sacred Chank", Turbinella pyrum, considered a sacred item in both Hinduism and Buddhism. However, it is only the extremely rare sinistral (left-spiraled) specimens that are considered to hold religious significance, not the normal right-spiraled ones. Here is another picture of the species, showing the normal right-spiraled shell and the rare "sacred" left-spiraled one:

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As for the shells mentioned, from the Florida garage sale, they are almost certainly not this species, but the Florida lightning whelk, Busycon sinistrum, a very common species that is normally left-spiraled:

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I have read of cases where people sold shells of this species to practitioners of either Buddhism or Hinduism, sometimes at prices far exceeding their actual value, who apparently were most glad to accept them. I don't know whether the buyers thought they were actually getting sinistral chank shells for their money, or whether the fact of sinistrality was the central issue, and they were willing to take another unrelated species just because it is sinistral, even though normally so.