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Akan goldweights at the Monnaie de Paris

Akan: The Values of Trade

PARIS—From September 8, 2020–February 28, 2021, the Monnaie de Paris will be the venue for an exhibition devoted to the monetary systems used by the Akan—and particularly its Asante subgroup—people of West Africa, from the fifteenth through the early twentieth centuries. The unusual nature of those systems lies in their reliance upon scales and an incredible variety of beautiful and finely sculpted, often figural, brass weights, to measure quantities of gold.

Organized under the supervision of Dominique Antéri- on, curator of the collections at the Monnaie de Paris, Akan. Les valeurs de l’échange (Akan:The Values of Trade) examines this vast subject through the presentation of more than 500 objects and documents. The Monnaie de Paris itself has in excess of 2,000 Akan goldweights in its collection, the result of gifts and bequests received over the years, including that of Henri Abel, a French civil servant who lived in what is now the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, but the Paris institution also solicited additional material from private and public collections to enhance the content of this show. The installation will include works from the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, the Bibliothèque Mazarine, and the Bibliothèque Universitaire des Langues et Civilisations of Paris. The exhibition will explore the relationships between Europe and what was called the “Gold Coast,” beginning in the fifteenth cen- tury with the establishment of commercial trade routes, the rise of the Akan kingdoms and their rivalries, and their trade system based on gold, as well as on other pre- cious materials such as brass, salt, textiles, etc. The exhibition also delves into the symbolic aspects of gold, as well as the diversity of the animals represented in the weights.

A number of activities have been scheduled to enhance the event, including a guided visit by Dominique Antérion on September 14.

Practical Information 
Monnaie de Paris
11, quai Conti
75008 Paris

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