Gold-weight

Accession Number
1997/1.514

Title
Gold-weight

Artist(s)
Akan

Artist Nationality
Akan (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1900-1985

Medium & Support
brass

Dimensions
2 1/2 in x 11/16 in x 3/16 in (6.4 cm x 1.7 cm x 0.5 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
Figurative gold-weight in the form of a sword with a hooked blade, called afena in Twi. During the 16th century, the use of swords was first recorded and they have played an important part in ritual and ceremonial contexts ever since. The curved, flat blade commonly found on Akan swords may have come from similar Islamic weapons that were carried along trans-Saharan trade routes (cf. Sheales, African Goldweights, 2014). In the 18th and 19th centuries, swords became increasingly elaborate to show the status and power of Akan officials. This allowed for internal and external communication in royal courts, as sword-bearers were sometimes sent to other courts as ambassadors (cf. McLeod, The Asante, 1981, pp. 88-90). These state or ceremonial swords are part of a king's regalia, but since the early 20th century, the role of swords has declined and today they remain in use as items of display (cf. McLeod, The Asante, 1981, p. 94).

Physical Description
Gold-weight in the shape of a wide, flat blade with a curved hook at one end and a handle in the form of two balls connected by a narrow rod with a small ball the end. 

Primary Object Classification
Metalwork

Primary Object Type
goldweight

Collection Area
African

Rights
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Keywords
ceremonial swords
ceremonial weapons
communication (function)
goldweights
measuring
miniature (size attribute)
regalia
weighing devices

& Author Notes

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