Gold Weight

MOA: University of British Columbia


Thin square-shaped gold weight with raised designs on top. Design consists of a circle and diamond inside of a rectangle with a line running through the centre, dividing both shapes in half. Plain lines extend from left and right sides of rectangle.

  • Narrative

    The donor taught in a rural school in Tobli, eastern Liberia, from 1965 to 1967.

  • History Of Use

    Gold weights were historically made and used by the Akan peoples to weigh powdered gold ('gold dust'), which was used as the standard currency from the seventeenth to mid-nineteenth centuries. Locally referred to as abrammuo (singular mrammuo), they were usually made of a brass alloy and were based on the Islamic weight system. Each form had a known measurement, and those engaging in trade at that time would own a full set of weights. The pieces were cast using the lost-wax technique, ranging in form from simple geometric designs (thought to be the earliest forms) to figurative forms such as animals and humans, or items such as swords and Adinkra symbols.

  • Specific Techniques

    Cast using the lost-wax technique ("cire perdue"). Akan/Asante brass-casters achieved works of great technical virtuosity by use of the lost wax process. A wax model was made and given several coats of a fine clay paste mixed with ground charcoal. A number of thin wax rods were attached to the wax model, which enabled holes to be formed through which the metal would be poured. After several coatings giving a thickness of between 3-6 mm had been applied, an outer layer of clay was carefully built-up around it and left until dry. The mould was heated and the molten wax tipped-out. A small clay cup containing the metal was sealed tightly against the hole leading to the inside of the mould. The mould and cup were then returned to the furnace and heated until the metal was molten. Tongs were used to quickly invert the mould so it was filled with the molten metal. The mould was then removed from the furnace and allowed to stand until it had cooled and the metal solidified. Lastly, it was broken open and the casting cleaned.

  • Type of Item weight
  • Culture Akan
  • Material brass metal
  • Measurements height 0.4 cm, width 1.9 cm, depth 1.9 cm (overall)

  • Previous Owner Donald White
  • Received from Donald White

  • Made in Ghana

  • Collection Date between 1965 and 1968
  • Ownership Date before August 27, 2021
  • Acquisition Date on August 27, 2021

  • Item Classes metalwork
  • Condition good
  • Accession Number 3522/0010