12 'Kissi' pennies Guinea Liberia Sierra Leone

12 Kissi pennies
12 Kissi pennies

Custodian: University of Glasgow Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery

Reference: GLAHM E.1982.1

Iron has as a currency material has been recorded in West Africa for around 500 years. These iron rods with round, flattened or t-shaped ends originate in the Kissi district of Sierra Leon, but were exchanged across a much wider geographical area. They could be used individually in small transactions or were sometimes twisted together to create higher values. They have also been used as a token on the completion of a ritual; as bridal wealth (paid by the groom's parents to the bride's); or placed on graves to channel the soul. These 'coins' were believed to have a soul. If broken, it could not be used again until repained by a blacksmith.

Maker: not known

Materials: metal (iron)

Dimensions: between 220mm and 370mm