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Goldweight Depicting a Bird


19th/mid–20th century


Asante or related Akan-speaking peoples
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

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.
Many types of animals, birds, and reptiles are represented in Akan proverb gold weights; the bird is a common symbol of communication and wisdom in many West African societies. This weight is cast in the form of a bird standing on two legs with an elongated neck, a narrow beak, a flat tail, and an intertwined body and wings. Its body is textured with rough hatch marks.


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa




Goldweight Depicting a Bird


Ghana (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Copper alloy


2.5 × 1.3 × 4.5 cm (1 × 1/2 × 1 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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