Capis Shells

capiz shells
Capis Shells | @natmuseumph

Capis Shells

Eager to learn about a spe-SHELL bivalve that’s been a part of Filipino culture for centuries?

Capis shells (Placuna placenta) have been a ubiquitous embellishment in classic Philippine built heritage. Its delicateness and translucency make it an ideal substitute for glass, which was hard to come across during the Early Spanish era. During that time, as many as 5,000,000 capis shells were used in Manila alone.

Currently, capis is cultivated in many places across the Philippines, such as in its namesake province of Capiz, in Iloilo, and in Samal island in Davao del Norte, among many others. It has also become a medium for amazing artwork.

Unfortunately, capis shells are threatened by over-exploitation and have seen a significant decline in use in architecture and artistry. Despite this, steps have been introduced to preserve the heritage of this seashell, such as the implementation of regulations, the practice of sustainable harvesting techniques, and a strong educational campaign for the protection of this resource.

Let us all work together for the preservation of our rich marine biodiversity and built heritage traditions!

Visit the Placuna Placenta: Capis Shells and Windows to the Indigenous Artistry exhibition at the National Museum of Fine Arts! Open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9 AM to 6 PM. Admission is FREE!

You may want to read: