Goldweights

A special group of small brass pieces are the weights for weighing gold dust of the Akan peoples of Ghana. These are known as Ashanti weights. Goldsmiths, aside from working in gold and making jewelry, cast these small weights in brass and sold them in sets with the necessary scales for weighing gold dust. Goldsmiths were a privileged class and made up separate social units who handed down their artistic skills to their off-spring.

Small brass weights may be divided into two major groups: geometric shapes and figurative forms. The geometric are most often in shape of cubes, double (hollow) cylinders, hexahedrons, pyramids, and staired pyramids. The figurative include all kinds of animals and plants, people in a variety of occupations and various types of common objects such as tools, vessels, chairs, musical instruments, and weapons, all miniature in size. Especially interesting are the weights in the form of insects, small fruit, and the seed of certain plants as these were cast from nature, using the actual insect or seed and not wax sculptures. Figurative forms are often representations of traditional sayings and proverbs. For instance, the meaning of the weight where the two men are portrayed, one climbing up a tree, another one helping him, is that the one who chooses the good tree or the good path, will always find a helping hand.

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