19th Century Chamba Iron Currency In Shovel or Hoe Abstract Form 2
Approx. 17 1/2" tall x 7" wide, 19" tall with base
Small Metal Currency Forms were among the first true currency known in West Africa, being used for Bride Price, payment of fines, compensation of Diviners, and for the needs of the Next World as Burial Money. Cowrie shells were used for small purchases. In regions outside coastal west Africa and the Niger River, other variety of other currencies, such as bracelets, anklets and torques of complex design, iron units often derived from tools and weapons, copper rods, themselves often bent into bracelets, and the well-known Handa (Katanga cross) all served as special-purpose monies to trade and store wealth, as well as exhibiting the owner's wealth, prestige and power.
Large and Complex Metal Currency Objects used in traditional Africa cultures were used to trade and store wealth. These pieces might be used for major purchases (of land or animals) or to signify a transfer of wealth at major events, such as Birth, Coming of Age, Marriage, or Death. The most frequent use was as Bridewealth, to compensate a family for the loss of a daughter.