Skip Navigation

Gold-weight (abrammuo): bird

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–20th century
    DIMENSIONS 1 1/8 x 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (2.9 x 1.3 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    ACCESSION NUMBER 88.192.99
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin H. Williams
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Angular bird-like creature with triangular head. Ridge with serrated edge projects from top of head along sides of body. Small metal triangle extends from rear, depicting tail. CONDITION: Accumulations of blue copper corrosion over surface of weight.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Akan. Gold-weight (abrammuo): bird, 19th–20th century. Cast brass, 1 1/8 x 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (2.9 x 1.3 x 3.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin H. Williams, 88.192.99. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 88.192.99_side1_PS6.jpg)
    IMAGE side, 88.192.99_side1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.