Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Katanga Cross Tiny Currency Copper Alloy Luba African Art

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Title Katanga Cross Tiny Currency Copper Alloy Luba African Art
Type of Object Currency
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Luba
Materials copper or brass, unknown metal content.
Approximate Age Early to mid 20th century
Dimensions Height: 1.25-2 inches length. Inches
Width: 1-1.25 inches width. See picture with penny for size comparison (US penny is 19mm diameter). Inch
Overall Condition Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Tarnished, embedded dirt, and bent.

Picture is an example, yours will be similar.

Additional Information: This Katanga cross is found among the Luba of Katanga where Copper is known as one of the most important row material. Several examples of these crosses were found in the Upembe and Zambezi regions. These crosses were used as currency in commercial transactions as well as an exchange unit during the matrimonial ceremonies. Suzan Lerer has published three crosses similar to this one but attributed to the Igbo Ukwu and known as West African Katanza (Katanza name may derive from the Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo where copper crosses like this were extensively used. For more information see Susan Lerer AFRICAN METALWORK and IVORY1993, p. 33, fig. 45

See Roberto Ballarini, Black Africa's Traditional Arms, p. 118-119 for a Luba example.