Indiana University Indiana University IU

Culture Ngelima
Title Currency
Date Unknown
Medium Copper alloy
Dimensions Object: 41 1/2 × 5 × 5 in. (105.4 × 12.7 × 12.7 cm)
Overall: 41 1/2 x 5 x 5 in. (105.4 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Tom Joyce, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 2005.307

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About this Work

Little is known about the Ngelima, who live in the northeastern part of Democratic Republic of the Congo. Copper rods were a common currency in central Africa, but their transformation into long spirals is unusual. The form has a practical value, though: compressing the coils allows the metal to be carried and stored more compactly. The form seems to be intended to recall a snake—note the difference in the treatment of top and bottom—though the reason is not clear.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

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"Currency | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.