From ancient times, people have made jewelry and other valuable objects from gold that was found in the mines controlled by the Akan people (Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa).
One of the most important pieces of African art is Akan goldweights (ABRAMMUO).
These incredible, unique items were developed and used by merchants and rulers of the Akan (Ashanti/Asante) tribes to better control and regulate the trading of gold dust (the currency of the region at the time). The goldweight was placed on one side of a balance scale (NSENIA) and the gold-dust was scooped onto the other side using a brass spoon (NSAWA or ATERE).
Akan goldweights were made in sets. Owning a complete set of weights would immensely increase your status with the other Akan people. Sometimes, these sets were provided as gifts to men that were newly wed.
Akan goldweights were made from imported brass, using the lost wax casting technique. Wax is first sculpted into the desired shape. Then, the mold was pressed around the wax model. In doing so, the mold heated up and the wax drained out, leaving a void in the shape of the original wax model. Then, melded liquid brass was poured into the mold and allowed to set. Once set, the caster broke the mold and retrieved the ready gold weight.
Earlier samples (1400 AD) were cast with geometric designs, and later goldweights (1700 AD) were made also in figurative imagery of proverbs and stories of the Akan people and cultural items, such as Adinkra symbols, plants and wild and domestic animals.
Below, check out our collection of great examples of Akan goldweights.