Part of a set. See all set records
Part 1: 16 x 14.2 cm (6 5/16 x 5 9/16 in.); Part 2: 14.1 x 11.7 cm (5 9/16 x 4 5/8 in.)
Gift of Willett Rankin Wilson, in memory of Audley R. and Edna Moore Wilson 1982.341
From 1822 to 1847, the American Colonization Society colonized what became Liberia. Americo-Liberians (Congau) ruled until 1980. However, blacksmiths generally sourced brass for jewelry making from kettles or bullets brought by nearby French colonials from the 1890s onward.
Copper alloy bracelets and anklets historically signified a woman’s married status. They were bonded to her in life and removed following death. A blacksmith cast these heavy adornments. Given their weight, their owner couldn’t do domestic or farm work, showing others her privilege as a member of the elite leisure class. Slowed by this jewelry, her movements sent bells jingling in the hollow balls. Following a 1930s economic collapse, women stopped wearing the bracelets to take part in manual labor. At the same time, a national decree outlawed them; many were melted down.
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