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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.”
CULTURE Akan
MEDIUM Copper alloy
DATES 19th-20th century
DIMENSIONS 1 1/4 x 3/4 x 3/4 in.  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
ACCESSION NUMBER 88.192.129
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin H. Williams
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Akan. Gold Weight, 19th-20th century. Copper alloy, 1 1/4 x 3/4 x 3/4 in. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin H. Williams, 88.192.129. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE overall, 88.192.129_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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RECORD COMPLETENESS Good (62%)
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Gold Weight