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Gold-weight (abrammuo): equestrian figure

Arts of Africa

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 century
    DIMENSIONS 3 x 2 1/4 in. (7.6 x 5.7 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Syrop
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Brass figure of a horse and rider, cast by the lost wax method. The horse's back dips in the center and its tail is long and full. It wears a bridle and the rider holds the reins. It has pointed ears and small round notched eyes. The front legs are bent with hooves turned up. The back legs are straight. The rider's coiffure is composed of small round circles in relief, and his features are clearly indicated. CONDITION: Excellent. Mounted on a modern plexi stand.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Akan. Gold-weight (abrammuo): equestrian figure, 19th century. Cast brass, 3 x 2 1/4 in. (7.6 x 5.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Syrop, 81.168.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 81.168.1_PS6.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 81.168.1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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