TOPOKE IRON CURRENCY

Democratic Republic of Congo

Iron, 170 and 147 cm

Such blades were used by various tribal groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a form of currency. They served to close a variety of important transactions such as land deals and at one time, twenty to thirty would have bought a bride.

It is forged from a single piece of iron with light ribbing to both edges, front and back.

Metal currency pre-dated minted coinage in Africa by many centuries. Often, it took the shape of an exaggerated form of familiar, utilitarian objects such as enormous spear heads (liganda doa) of the Topoke people. In some respects, the increasingly large objects of currency might represent a form of monetary inflation.

Cf: Emil Torday, and the art of the Congo 1900-1909, page 26

Price: large: €  450,=  small: €  350,=