CULT Ashanti probably C19th or C20th Gold Coast Ghana The weights were used to measure out specific quantities of gold and gold dust, the local currency, which was mined and panned in great quantities within the kingdom.
This Troy weight is of a round container shape, which opens to reveal five smaller weights, all adding up by 1oz per weight. After the colonisation of the Gold Coast, the Ashanti weight standardisation, which had previously involved adding smaller weights together up to one takou, changed first to the Portuguese standardisation system, then to the British ounce.
The earliest known period of weight production began in approximately 1400, however during the 18th and 19th centuries manufacture increased as the Ashanti's economy grew, mainly due to war, conquest, booty and trade. This explains why the majority of the Hunterian Museum's collection of Ashanti weights are from this period, rather than the earlier, post-contact periods. In 1894, the colonial administration in the region banned the use of gold dust as currency, and in 1896 outlawed the use and making of weights.