African Currency: Hoe Blades, Bracelets, and More

September 20 to December 21, 2008

Though paper money and coins are used throughout Africa today, a variety of materials, ranging from salt to cloth to metal was used for earlier currency. From long blades over three feet long to small, heavy, engraved bracelet forms, some of these objects might be mistaken simply as tools, weapons, and bracelets now, though their value at one time went beyond their effectiveness as utilitarian objects and jewelry. This introduction to one of the less frequently displayed aspects of African culture features iron, brass, and copper objects from a recent gift of over one hundred African metal objects presented to the Art Museum by New Mexico sculptor Tom Joyce.

Image: Matakam peoples, Cameroon. Currency. Iron. Gift of Tom Joyce, IU Art Museum 2005.220