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Anklet originated from Gurunsi, Burkina Faso


Yellow cast iron.



H 10,5 cm. W 8,5 cm.
Zimmer Collection, Switzerland.


Since time immemorial, jewellery in a wide variety of forms and materials has accompanied and fascinated people of all cultures.


From a cultural point of view, bangles, anklets, amulets and necklaces are much more than just pieces of jewellery. In Africa in particular, these precious objects are not only valued for their beauty, but are also revered as having magical, protective powers.

In West Africa, too, ornaments are part of religious beliefs and symbolise the wearer's rank and affiliation. In some ethnic groups, diviners prescribe the wearing of protective jewellery that keeps away evil spirits.


Due to the value of the processed raw materials, such jewellery was also a store of value and was used in trade as pre-coinage means of payment. This so-called primitive money was cast or forged into standardised forms and exchanged over long distances.


The use of imported copper alloy manillas as articles of exchange in Africa dates back to at least the 16th century, when the Portuguese established trading posts in West Africa. In the course of time, these imported goods were repeatedly melted down and further processed. New shapes were created and other materials, such as iron, were increasingly traded in the same way.


At the beginning of the 20th century, most colonial powers banned decorative hoops and other forms of money as a means of payment in order to establish their own currencies.


Further reading:
Glar, Wilfried (2002). African maturity. Attempt at an overview (5 volumes). Own publication.

Gurunsi Anklet