African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
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  • Load image into Gallery viewer, African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake

African Akan Bronze Gold Weight - Bird and Snake

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An interesting bronze gold weight from the Akan people of Ghana.

The weight would have been made using the "loss wax" technique where the object is first sculpted from wax, a clay mould set around the wax and the the wax replaced with molten bronze.

Supplied acrylic stand.

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These small objects were essential tools for trade in West Africa until the end of the 19th century. Depicting important proverbs and symbols from Akan culture, they illuminate intricacies of a complex society and historical networks of commerce.

Akan people produced gold weights like these in Ghana from around 1400 to 1900. Made from imported European brass, these weights represented units and could be adjusted with drops of solder or copper plugs. They were used to measure gold-dust, the currency of the region at the time. Units of gold dust were weighed out for all transactions, from the smallest market sale to the largest state enterprise.

Traders carried many weights and most families would also have a collection that could be passed down as heirlooms. The gold weight would sit on one side of a pair of scales and gold-dust would be scooped onto the other with a brass spoon. The weights and scales would be part of a larger gold weighing set.

Impurities were removed with blow pans of hammered brass and the quality of gold nuggets would be tested with a touchstone. Gold dust was kept in a twist of cloth inside a brass box for everyday use and sometimes stored in large, elaborate brass containers called kuduo.