Although often identified with Akan peoples living in south-central Ghana, weights for measuring gold dust were used and traded throughout all of present-day Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. For more than five centuries, smiths cast weights from wax models. The style and subject matter identify this weight as dating to the 18th to late 19th century . All weights are immensely diverse in form while set to exact measurement standards.
Some weights’ forms were selected just for their beauty or to display the owner’s status. Many, however, evoke Akan proverbs, whose meanings vary with time and place—more than one interpretation can apply. A pistol can suggest far reaching power.
Cast copper alloy figurative weight in the form of a hand holding a pistol.
Slavery and Freedom, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., September 24, 2016 (ongoing)