African art > African Currencies > Paléomonnaie
Primitive currency Idoma (N° 14386)
This primitive African currency takes the form of a flared blade under which volute arms emerge. The surface is hammered with notches forming a regular relief. The lower base, at the tip, could be recorded in the ground. In Africa, before the colonial period, payments were never made in coins. Transactions were made using cauris, pearls, cattle, kola nuts, but also metals, including iron in particular. These primitive currencies were used in trade, social exchanges, for dowries in particular, but could also constitute objects of parade or throw weapons. In Sierra Leone, goods were assessed against iron bars called barriferri. The king generally controlled the production or delivery of the kingdom's currency. The variety of these metallic forms is wide, and these sometimes take on the appearance of particularly aesthetic non-figurative sculpture. The Idoma , who are probably descendants of the akopo , live at the confluence of Benué and Niger. There are 500,000 farmers and traders. Their art and customs include Igbo, Cross River and Igala influences and it is often difficult to distinguish them from their neighbours. The royal lineage members of their society oglinye , glorifying courage, use masks and crests during funerals and festivities. They also produce fertility statues with bleached faces and exhibiting incised teeth.
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