The Museum’s ‘Object of the Month’ provides an opportunity to explore interesting and unusual objects from our stores.
August’s Object of the Month chosen by Jenny Oxley, Collections Officer (Human History) is a collection of weights and boxes from the museum’s world cultures collections.
This section of the museum’s collections is not as well-known and we are trying to research and document these collections more fully and improve their interpretation.
These gold weights were used as a measuring system by the Akan people of West Africa, particularly for weighing out gold dust which was the currency until it was replaced by paper money and coins. They are referred to locally as “mrammou”.
Many of the gold weights look like miniature models of everyday objects. Based on the Islamic weight system, each weight had a known measurement. This provided merchants with secure and fair-trade arrangements with one another.
The status of a man increased significantly if he owned a complete set of weights. Geometric weights were used from around the 15th century and figurative weights were introduced around the 17th century and used up until the beginning of the 20th century.
Chiefs and notables stored gold dust in these delicate cast-brass containers, which were modelled after prototypes from North Africa, which had been brought to Ghana during its early involvement with the trans-Saharan gold trade.