Ndoro found in Zimbabwe can be divided into two separate categories. Firstly, the original marine mollusc of the genus Conus Virgo or the calcareous Operculum of large marine snails such as Conus Turbo and secondly, the mass produced factory copies of the natural mollusc.
Having established themselves on the Mozambique coast and having started trade links with the interior, the Portuguese first learned of the value placed upon the ndoro, which, because of its scarcity, was much sought-after. The Portuguese took advantage of this demand by introducing large quantities of the natural mollusc, ndoro and later, mass-produced factory ceramic and porcelain copies. Portuguese traders of the sixteenth, seventeenth and later centuries are believed to have exchanged ndoro for gold, ivory and other goods. Most of the ndoro found in Zimbabwe today are the ceramic or porcelain copies of the natural ndoro.
Perhaps the earliest written reference to the ndoro can be found in the journals of a sixteenth century Portuguese chronicler who observed that: ‘The Monomatapa and the Macarangas and their vassals wear on their foreheads a white shell, as a jewel, strung from the hair, and the Monomatapa wears another large shell on his chest. They call these shells Andoros’.
According to a colourful legend, the ndoro played a dramatic role in the early history of Zimbabwe. At some time in the fifteenth century, it helped in a battle. The story goes that a descendant of Mutota, the apparent founder of the Munhumutapa dynasty, was trying to subjugate a rival king named Karuva. Discovering, through a spy, that Karuva held the ndoro in great awe and respect, he ordered his warriors to wear ndoro upon their foreheads as they marched into battle against Karuva’s forces. On seeing the ndoro-ornamented soldiers approach, Karuva became confused, and the tide of the battle turned against him.
In the northeastern region of Zimbabwe, oral history suggests that ndoro were brought into the country by the Muzungu or Gouveias, or Portuguese traders, from Mozambique. Ndoro were used by chiefs in Shona society as symbols of rank and authority and as signifiers of wealth.
Patrick has used the ndoro shape in many of his jewellery designs including chains, pendants and earrings. Silver ndoro age beautifully and always have that African look and feel to them.
Item code: 643-412
Made by hand in Zimbabwe
Complimentary gift wrapping
Ships from London flagship storeComplimentary Standard Shipping Worldwide on orders over £200. More about Shipping & Delivery
Most pieces can be made in 18 ct gold and in sterling silver. Engraving and the setting of semi-precious stones are also available.
We can also suggest alternative or complementary pieces to help you choose a gift.Contact Us
Every Patrick Mavros silver sculpture is made using the ancient technique of lost wax casting. Obtaining a silver sculpture of the original wax model is a long and involved process. The wax model is encased in liquid rubber which, once set, is carefully cut away to provide a negative. Into this cavity... More about silver casting »
Every Mavros piece is borne of our experiences in the natural world and of our respect for the environment. Every piece has a story. More about this piece »
Complimentary Worldwide Delivery on all Orders Over £200
Delivery on orders less than £200:
Standard UK delivery 3-5 working days £5.00 Express UK delivery 1-2 working days £8.00 Standard International delivery 7-12 working days £12.00 Express International delivery 3-5 days working £30.00
Collection of your order can be arranged from our stores in London, Harare, Mauritius and Nairobi. If this item is in stock, United Kingdom customers can expect delivery within 2 business days. For other customers world-wide, expect delivery within 7 to 12 days. If your selection is not in stock, we will inform you within 24 hours and an order will be placed that will be dispatched to you within three weeks. Each piece is lovingly handmade and we promise it's worth the wait!
Gift wrap is complimentary. This and every piece ordered here will come with our signature wrapping paper featuring silver elephants and the classic red ribbon.
Most pieces come in black signature Mavros embossed boxes, and some smaller pieces are placed in black velvet pouches prior to wrapping. See more about our gift wrap with photos here.
For the lifetime of your purchase, enjoy free silver cleaning service at our London flagship store. Deliver your pieces in person or by post and we'll clean them for you. Learn more about our silver cleaning service here. How do you clean sterling silver? Learn how you can clean silver yourself at home.
Your purchases signify your agreement to our terms and conditions.