Zande Currency Object - D.R. Congo

Before the introduction of coinage to Africa, metal currency took the form of stylized utilitarian objects such as hoe blades, arrowheads and spearheads, forged from a variety of materials. Some of the most distinctive and aesthetically impressive were fashioned after the design of throwing knives, as seen in this very rare example. This is one of three known of this type. Currency objects of this type were not exchanged on a commercial basis, but rather as part of a complex system of tribute-giving conducted between tribes.

Mid-19th century
ex Franklin S. Terry; Western Reserve Society; Cowan's; private US collection
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