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Goldweight with a Geometric Design

A work made of copper alloy.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of copper alloy.


18th/19th century


Asante or related Akan-speaking peoples
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

Brass-cast weights like this one were produced using the lost-wax technique and used for economic transactions that involved gold. Although cast in a variety of figural forms, weights with abstract, graphic motifs—such as this one—were the earliest ones to be produced. From the 15th century gold mined in the region of Kumasi began to be traded to the north, first transported to towns in the West African Sahel and then across the Sahara desert to North Africa. To facilitate trade, the Akan made weights calibrated to those of their trading partners. Consequently there were two weights—one based on an Islamic ounce of gold dust and the other on a miskal. When the Portuguese began to trade along the African coast around 1470, the Akan made another series of weights calibrated to the Portuguese ounce, and once again after 1600, when the Dutch introduced the troy ounce.


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Arts of Africa




Goldweight with a Geometric Design


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


0.8 × 1.7 × 1.7 cm (5/16 × 11/16 × 11/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Britt Family Collection

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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