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AFC076 Original Ashanti gold weight, ca 1830

From the fifteenth century until the last century the western coast of Africa was a land of plentiful river gold. The native peoples called the Akan with two primary tribes, the Baule (Baoule') in the Ivory Coast and the Asante (Ashanti) in the Gold Coast, dominated the gold gathering and trading in the region. Gold weights and measures were highly priced among the goldworker tribes. There was a large assortment of weights used by the natives to balance their gold dust and gold nuggets in order to obtain market value. In the early periods from 1400-1700 they relied on a system of geometric weights or in later periods, the 18th and 19th centuries, the weights took figurative forms of animals and people in every day life scenarios. This object is related to the many tales and myths about the strength of the crocodile.