African Gold-weights in the British Museum

Fiona Sheales

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Details of decoration, motifs and symbols are provided in the description field and the names of the artefacts, where known, are given in brackets in Twi (the language spoken by the Akan peoples of Ghana). Details of the different techniques of manufacture, e.g. appropriated/direct cast/lost wax cast, are included in the description field of each individual record. Measurements are provided in centimetres and weight in grammes.


In respect of all items, including those acquired during the Anglo–Asante wars, acquisition dates are given in the catalogue entries. Links are provided to brief biographical details of the donor. It should be noted that these artefacts probably pre-date the acquisition date, in the majority of cases by many years. Some dates are preceded by a ‘?’ which indicates that an approximate date is given.


The place where an object was made is recorded as place (e.g. Kumase) and, if known, the site where it was found is recorded as findspot (e.g. royal palace).


As there are 2,000 gold-weights included in this catalogue, the guide to weight types section can be used to browse images of different weight types and find links to others of a similar form. It is also possible to search the catalogue.

Quick search

Use the search box at the top of the catalogue to conduct a simple free text search (which searches both essay content and object descriptions). For example, entering ‘geometric gold-weight’ will retrieve all items catalogued under that term, and inputting ‘tortoise’ will retrieve all gold-weights cast in the shape of a tortoise. Clicking on the thumbnail image of the returned result will provide more details of that particular artefact and a larger image.

Advanced search

The gold-weights in the catalogue may also be retrieved using advanced search options, but this type of search will only yield results from the objects in the catalogue (i.e. there is no search of essay content).


The bibliography includes other published catalogues and surveys of Akan gold-weights, but it is not an exhaustive list of such material.

Read the bibliography