CHAMBA (or YORUBA) GONG SET CURRENCY, Nigeria

CHAMBA
Set 114
17" high
$900

CHAMBA
Set 121
14.5" high
$300

CHAMBA
Set 124
14" high
$300

CHAMBA
Set 125
15" high
$300

CHAMBA
Set 1
10" high
$200

CHAMBA
Set 3
13.5" high
$200

 

CHAMBA
Set 4
11" high
$200

CHAMBA
Set 5
10.5" high
$200

 

CHAMBA
Set 9
11.5" high
$200

 

CHAMBA
Set 10
12.5" high
$200

Photographs © Hamill Gallery

CHAMBA, GONG SET CURRENCY, Nigeria

These iron forms functioned as gongs, but would also have been used as currency (see below).

These can be hung on a wall or stand on their own, each time taking a new configuration. The height in inches includes the ring, as pictured. The number of gongs per set vary from 5.5 to 12.5, with .5 indicating a very small or broken off remnant.

This collection of bells and 'clangers' are often identified as Yoruba, which they could be. This style or type of metal grouping is also reported as being from the Chamba people of the Benue River Valley. The Chamba seem to have a great variety of iron currency forms and may be the case that when forged iron currency is not specifically identified it is associated to the Chamba who live in a remote and very traditional region of Nigeria. The bell shaped forms and narrow 'clangers' are attached to a ring, keeping the individual pieces as part of a group that would have an enhanced value due to the material and their forms. Equally, each element could be exchanged separately for goods. Forged iron currency has a long history throughout west Africa dating back to the first millennium from evidence of iron working in northern Nigeria. The convertibility of forged iron into other objects makes it an ideal form of currency. Equally, in the shape of bells and clangers it could equally serve as a musical and ritual object.

Dr. Daniel Mato
Professor Emeritus of Art History
The University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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