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Between and Mortarboard


UMMA Object Specific Fields






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Gold-weight

Accession Number
1997/1.491

Title
Gold-weight

Artist(s)
Akan

Artist Nationality
Akan (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1900-1985

Medium & Support
brass

Dimensions
1 9/16 in x 1/2 in x 3/16 in (3.9 cm x 1.2 cm x 0.5 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
Geometric gold-weight in the form of a rectangle with a comb-like motif along one side and a zig-zag pattern along the other. Many weights show patterns consisting of spirals, circles, waves, zigzag lines, bars, comb-shapes, bows, or crosses (cf. Sheales, African Goldweights, 2014). Most argue that the similarities between Akan gold-weights and their Roman and Islamic counterparts indicate that Akan-speaking peoples adapted weight forms from their North African trading partners for their own use in the context of the gold trade (cf. Garrard, Akan Weights and the Gold Trade, pp. 4-5). Other scholars maintain that the graphic patterns on Akan gold-weights represent a symbolic language of indigenous origin. Following this interpretation, the gold-weight shown here shows the combined symbols of the sun (the zigzag line) and the moon (the edged teeth), or the potentially harmful rays of the "Fire of Heaven" and the life-giving rays of the Moon (Niangoran-Bouah, The Akan World of Gold Weights, Vol. 1, p. 248).  

Physical Description
Gold-weight in the shape of a rectangular base with a raised zig-zag pattern along one side and seventeen raised teeth along the other. 

Primary Object Classification
Metalwork

Primary Object Type
goldweight

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
goldweights
measuring
miniature (size attribute)
weighing devices

1 Related Resource

Celestial bodies
(Part of: Natural World)

& Author Notes

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