metal spring with incised decoration; flat circle of metal at end of each coil, with incised lines

Currency, 20th century

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In the late 1400s, the Portuguese began trading with Igbo peoples in southeastern Nigeria—buying at first primarily ivory and pepper, and later also humans. The Portuguese bartered for goods with copper, which the Igbo accumulated and transformed over the centuries. The so-called bracelet currency seen here is a heritage of that tradition. Seventeen coils make up a metal spring, which has flat circles at its extremities. Some Igbo currencies have more or fewer coils, varying the amount of metal and thus the currency’s value.

Details
Title
Currency
Role
Artist
Accession Number
98.48.4
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metal spring with incised decoration; flat circle of metal at end of each coil, with incised lines