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Gold Weight

Arts of Africa

On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
Gold was extremely important in the economic and political life of the Akan kingdoms of southern Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Until the mid-nineteenth century, gold dust was the primary form of currency in the region. In order to measure precise amounts of gold, an elaborate system of weights, usually made of cast brass, developed by the seventeenth century. Gold weights took many forms: simple geometric shapes; animals, such as leopards or birds; objects, such as chairs or swords; and human figures. The figures, animals, and objects are often associated with proverbs. The sankofa bird, with head turned backward, represents the proverb “One must turn to the past to move forward.”
MEDIUM Cast brass
  • Place Made: Ashanti Region, Ghana
  • DATES 19th or 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 1 5/8 x 1 x 1 7/8 in. (4.1 x 2.5 x 4.8 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 74.218.68
    CREDIT LINE The Franklin H. Williams Collection of Ashanti Brass Weights and Accessory Objects for Weighing Gold, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin H. Williams
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Asante. Gold Weight, 19th or 20th century. Cast brass, 1 5/8 x 1 x 1 7/8 in. (4.1 x 2.5 x 4.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, The Franklin H. Williams Collection of Ashanti Brass Weights and Accessory Objects for Weighing Gold, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin H. Williams, 74.218.68. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 74.218.68_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Cast brass weight in shape of an antelope with long ringed horns that extend to the back end of the animal. It has three legs. It has a very dark patina. Condition: Good.
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