Gaimard lithograph of seashells, larger version.

Seashells. The toys children played with on farms in Iceland were very primitive: fragments of dead sheep, seashells, and any other objects that conveniently happened along. In play these objects represented the livestock and farm implements of the adult world: the horns of sheep were sheep, their shankbones were horses (as in Jónas's story), their jawbones cows. The shells of various molluscs played the same role, the large shells of Modus modiolus and Cyprina islandica representing (respectively) horses and cows, the small shells of Astarte borealis sheep.

Source: VIG, Atlas zoologique, médical et géographique, Mollusques, Plate 15 (Detail).

Copyright © 1996-8 Dick Ringler. All rights reserved.

Jonas' MS flourish for the end of a poem For technical assistance:
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