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Mambila Iron Currency African Art

$125.00
Product #: 100964
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Title Mambila Iron Currency African
Type of Object Currency, Money
Country of Origin Cameroon, Nigeria
People Mambila or Mfunte
Materials iron
Approximate Age mid 20th century
Dimensions 9.75 inches H x 6.5 inches Wide
Overall Condition Poor.   Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Rusty surface, stains, chips and dents, shallow crack at edge


Additional Information: The wonderful variety of metal objects found in Africa is essentially a function of the need to trade and store wealth not as one might assume, for weapons. These carefully-forged pieces were used for large, though infrequent, purchases of land or animals, and the transfer of wealth at major events such as births and initiations. The most commonplace use of iron and other metal objects was as "brideprice," the compensation of a family for the loss of a daughter to marriage. Most of these "currencies" were developed alongside traditional metal objects such as blades, tools, bracelets and anklets. While some pieces continued to be used for work or decorative purposes, most evolved into "pure" money, unusable except as objects recognized, prized and accepted widely as payment. This rare iron forged money is from the Mambila, an ethnic group from Cameroon, a very famous money used in local transactions. The Mambila had to trade this kind of iron currency from the Kwadja, a blacksmithing group according to Marc Ginzberg, 2000, p.192.


Later on, colonialism put new western currencies oon the market and ends the use of local currencies which  resulted in the scattered nature of the iron currencies such as this.


A similar currency is attributed to the Mfunte of Nigeria  in Karl-Ferdinand Schaedler , Earth And Ore. 2500 Years of African Art in Terra-Cotta and Metal, Panterra Verlag. Edition Minerva, 1997, fig. 629


Additional Information: 


Marc Ginzberg, 2000, African Forms, Skira ed.