Cultures & Traditions

Weighing Gold

Goldweights are counterweights used for measuring amounts of gold dust with a balance scale. They were made to match the weight standards of Akan trading partners. The shapes of goldweights evolved from geometric to figurative. The earliest goldweights were made of stone, copper, iron, or basalt. As the trans-Saharan trade routes became more established, the Akan learned the technique of brass casting from their North African trading partners, which allowed them to create figurative goldweights. These utilitarian objects gained significance because their imagery signified one or more proverbs or maxims. By tradition, weights were only owned by adult males who traded. Akan rulers established their own special sets.

Excerpt from

  • Roslyn Walker, The Power of Gold: Asante Royal Regalia from Ghana, Label text, 2018.

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