Ashanti Leopard


Natural gold resources in the dense forests of southern Ghana brought wealth and influence to the Asante (Ashanti) people. Asante wealth was increased by transporting gold to North Africa via trade routes across the Sahara. In the 15th and 16th centuries this gold attracted other traders, from the great Songhay empire (in today’s Republic of Mali) and from the Hausa cities of northern Nigeria. Gold was central to Asante art and belief. At a political level, gold indicated the kingdom’s dominance over rivals. Much gold entered the Asante court via tribute or war and was worked there by artisans from conquered territories. The court’s power was further demonstrated through its regulation of the regional gold trade. Everyone involved in trade and commerce owned, or had access to, a set of weights and scales. The weights, produced in copper, brass or bronze (usually by the ‘lost wax’ process), corresponded to a standardised weight system derived from North African, Dutch and Portuguese precedents. Geometric shapes and designs predominated amongst the early goldweights but more naturalistic representations of court regalia began to appear in the 17th century. By the 18th and 19th centuries the weights reflected a wide range of human and animal figures, often in scenarios designed to represent popular Asante proverbs. The original goldweights were small, weighing no more than 100 grams or so. This brass Ashanti leopard is based upon some of the original goldweights.

Size: 160mm x 60mm x 70mm

1 in stock

Additional information

Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 16 × 6 × 7 cm

African Artifacts


160mm x 60mm x 70mm


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