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Gold-weight (abrammuo): leopard

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.”
CULTURE Akan
MEDIUM Cast brass
  • Place Made: Ghana
  • DATES 19th or 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 1 11/16 x 3 3/4 in. (4.3 x 9.5 cm)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 67.25.14
    CREDIT LINE Bequest of Laura L. Barnes
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Solid male leopard weight with rabbit in mouth: leopard's undulating body ends in arched tail, raised spirals throughout. Rabbit's legs curve toward leopard's body, eyes and ears raised. Condition: Good. Spirals, and rabbit worn. Rough metal under leopard's body.
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