Miniature masterpieces – the world of Akan gold weights

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

As part of Black History Month, I am going to talk about something that could be perceived as being a bit mundane – weights. Not the kind you lift in the gym, but specifically weights used to measure out gold. These weights once formed part of the Derbyshire School Library Service, and were used by school children as handling objects. They have now been transferred to the permanent collection at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

These weights (known as mrammou) were used by the Akan, a diverse grouping of people inhabiting the present-day countries of Ghana and Ivory Coast. The weights first began to be used in the early 15th century and continued until the early 20th. This part of Africa is extremely rich in gold, and became known to Europeans, unsurprisingly, as the Gold Coast. This part of Africa was at the hub of…

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