19th c. Bronze Ashanti Gold Weights c.pre 1894
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This is a collection of bronze Ashanti gold weight figures depicting various activities. Each has retained its original finish.
- CREATOR Ashanti Tribe, Ghana, Africa.
DATE OF MANUFACTURE c.pre 1894 possibly older.
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES Bronze.
- CONDITION Good. Wear consistent with age and use.
- DIMENSIONS H 1.5-2.75 in. W .75-1.5 in. D 1 in.
When gold was the currency of choice on Africa’s West Coast, known in those times as the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Ashanti artisans produced cast gold weights known as abrammo. The weights served as a counterbalance to gold dust, when placed on a scale. This is how transactions were carried out, for hundreds of years.
Gold weights were, and still are, cast using the lost-wax process. In this age-old method, a figure is carved from wax; then clay is brushed onto the wax and built-up by adding additional layers, until a mold is formed. Hot brass is poured in, which melts the wax; when the brass cools, a “bronze” is formed. The mold must be broken in order to obtain the bronze within; therefore, each piece is unique – because each mold is destroyed.
Determining the age of a gold weight is somewhat easier, if you know the following facts: in 1894, gold dust was banned as currency by the English colonial rulers. Then, in 1896, the use and production of gold weights was prohibited. Therefore, many gold weights you encounter will have some age on them.