Goldweight with a Geometric Pattern


18th/19th 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. Around the late 14th century, gold mined in the Akan forest regions began to be traded northward—first to the centers of the West African Sahel and then across the Sahara to North Africa. In order to carry out this trade more efficiently, the Akan created two series of weights, one based on the Islamic ounce and one based on the miskal of gold dust. Other weights were later devised for trade with the Portuguese in the late 15th century and then with the Dutch after 1600
This rectangular gold weight’s surface consists of a simple grid traced with two tight parallel lines into four matrixes. The dynamic yet symmetrical design is enhanced by the addition of nine raised domed forms, intersecting each point along the grid.
—Permanent Collection Object Description

Currently Off View

Arts of Africa




Goldweight with a Geometric Pattern






Copper alloy


0.8 x 2 x 2.3 cm (5/16 x 3/4 x 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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