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. This weight depicts a snake—with its tightly coiled body and its large eyes suggesting alertness and preparedness—a common symbol of leadership and wisdom in many West African societies.
—Permanent Collection Object Description
Currently Off View
- Arts of Africa
- Goldweight Depicting a Coiled Snake
- Copper alloy
- 1 x 3 x 3.8 cm (3/8 x 1 3/16 x 1 1/2 in.)
- Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman