Royal currency in the form of a hoe



Verre peoples
Late 19th–early 20th century
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General Description

Traditional African currency took many forms, such as utilitarian objects and weapons. This example replicates the form of a long-handled, forged iron hoe, a historically important metal tool used to till the earth. As currency, "hoe money" was exchanged for goods and services or used as bridewealth. In contrast to a farming tool, this currency is made of cast copper alloy and artfully decorated with spirals in low relief. It was owned by a chief or other elite among the agricultural Verre who displayed it on ceremonial occasions. Thus, it was not used as money but served as a status symbol.

Excerpt from

  • Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.