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Goldweight in the shape of a crocodile

Accession Number
1997/1.508

Title
Goldweight in the shape of a crocodile

Artist(s)
Akan

Artist Nationality
Akan (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1900-1985

Medium & Support
brass

Dimensions
1 13/16 in x 1/2 in x 7/16 in (4.6 cm x 1.2 cm x 1.1 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
Crocodiles are a common form for the goldweights that have been used and produced by the Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire since the 15th century. In fact, the representation of crocodiles is by no means restricted to weights and is seen on many other Akan art forms as well, particularly those associated with the king, the queen-mother, and the court. Indeed, crocodiles often stand for the king himself-- both are thought to have a versatile character. A number of proverbs relate to crocodiles as well, such as: "The crocodile is in the water but it also breathes air" and "The great (or old) crocodile swallows a stone every year." The latter might either be interpreted as a proverb, meaning that misfortune comes every year and must be accepted as a part of life, or as a royal appellation, in which the king is compared to a great crocodile.

Physical Description
Gold-weight in the shape of a crocodile.

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
figurines
goldweights

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display