This finely cast 17th/18th Century gold weight depicts an Akan ceremonial sword (Afena) with a double-pommel handle and curved blade featuring a geometric, circular open-work design. The miniature representation of a buffalo, with two long curved horns, is prominently displayed at the front of the sword as an emblematic ornament.
In the late fourteenth-century, the Akan developed a system of using cast brass weights for measuring gold dust, their main currency, which remained in use until the late 1800s. Gold weights could also be worn as charms to cure ailments, gifted with dowries of gold dust or sent as pertinent messages. Proverbs depicted in the form of the weight could provide a piece of advice, recall a debt, serve as a warning or token of friendship.
Estimated Period: 17th/18th Century
Tom Phillips, 'African Goldweights: Miniature Sculptures from Ghana 1400-1900, pp. 110-114.
Royal Museums Greenwich, 'Akan Gold Weight'
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