Spear Blade Currency (Liganda)

Spear Blade Currency (Liganda) ©LCVA

Lokele or Turumbu culture
Democratic Republic of the Congo
iron
58.25" x 9.25"
1999.087
Gift of Donna and Thomas L. Brumfield, Jr.

Before the introduction of coins in the 19th century, currency was produced in several different forms in the Lokele and Turumba cultures. One of these forms was the liganda or spear blade currency, which could be as long as six feet. Length was the determining factor in assigning value. The liganda was used to purchase objects of considerable value such as a canoe. It would also be used for bride-wealth. Different from the European dowry, bride-wealth was paid to the bride's family by the groom's family to compensate for the loss of a daughter's services.

Bibliography: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian, 2002, ob.83.3.14