Gabon, Fang People, Iron Spade Money


Gabon, Fang People, Iron Spade Money (obverse) Gabon, Fang People, Iron Spade Money (reverse)

Many metal forms of money developed from weapons, tools and other utensils of daily life. Because everybody needed these things, they were very valuable. The functional utensils that were originally bartered soon evolved into symbolic forms. After all, one doesn't want to give away one's working tools for every acquisition. But even though the symbolic forms did not serve their original purpose anymore, they remained valuable. The material could be molten down any time, and turned into a useful object once again. This iron money has the form of a spade. It was produced and used by the Fang people. The Fang live in Central Africa, where they grow plantains and manioc. Large knives are used to clear the forests, and most of the cultivation is done with hoes and spades.


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