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Between and Mortarboard


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A collection of early modern and modern prints that demonstrates the range of techniques and print media

17 Items in this Learning Collection
Collection Object
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Copyright
All Rights Reserved ()

Gold-weight

Accession Number
1997/1.511

Title
Gold-weight

Artist(s)
Akan

Artist Nationality
Akan (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1900 - 1985

Medium & Support
brass

Dimensions
3 3/4 in x 3/8 in x 11/16 in (9.6 cm x 0.9 cm x 1.8 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
Figurative gold-weight in the shape of a European-style key, called safoa in Twi. A popular gold-weight motif, European-style keys most likely date back to the 16th century (cf. Sheales, African Goldweights, 2014). Along with their associated padlocks, key motifs on objects tied to the storage of wealth reinforced a "symbolic desire for physical and spiritual protection" (cf. Sheales, African Goldweights, 2014). Often strung onto bracelets or necklaces, displays of keys showed that the wearer had access to secrets and restricted areas associated with social, political, and spiritual power (Sheales, African Goldweights, 2014). Related proverbs include: 'One question acts as the key to another' and 'To all the state there is just one key' (cf. British Museum object number Af1948,21.85). 

Physical Description
Gold-weight in the shape of a cylindrical rod with a circular loop at one end and a rectangular protrusion at the other end. Near the loop and the middle there are groups of three raised lines wrapped around the rod. 

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
keys (hardware)
measuring
miniature (size attribute)
protection (maintenance function)
secrecy
wealth
weighing devices

1 Related Resource

Early Modern Atlantic World
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved