About This Artwork

Asante or related Akan-speaking peoples
Ghana

Goldweight Depicting a Fan, 19th/mid-20th century

Copper alloy
1.3 x 2.3 x 3.8 cm (1/2 x 7/8 x 1 1/2 in.)

Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman, 2007.585

Weights for measuring gold dust were made and used throughout Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire for more than five centuries, from about 1400 to 1900. These weights are either figurative or abstract and are usually divided into an early period (c. 1400–1700) and a late period (c. 1700–1900). During the late period, an increased variety and number of figurative weights emerged, although abstract weights continued to be made. Although used in economic transactions, the individual pieces could also function symbolically as indicators of wealth when placed on display.

This weight in the form of a fan is part of a series of weights that relate to life in Ghana and the Côte d’Ivoire and depict furniture, cooking equipment, weapons and tools, hunting and agricultural implements, and paraphernalia related to chieftaincy. Various gold weights continued to be used until around 1900, at which point gold mining was brought under European control and colonial coinage replaced the gold-dust currency.

—Permanent Collection Object Description

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Ownership History

Muriel Kallis Newman (died 2008), Chicago, Ill., by 1980; given to the Art Institute, 2007.




Interpretive Resources

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