Equestrian Figure 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.”
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Syrop
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Akan. Equestrian Figure Gold Weight, 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
overall, 81.168.1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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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.
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