1595

The Price of a Man

My men and I collect fired glass beads on the trip along the African coast. I’m not entirely sure why I wanted them; they sit quietly gathered in my belongings.

I have taken the time to draw a few pictures of them on paper, but my pen and ink fail to capture the colorful and sturdy way they sit in the hand. They are used as barter for the slaves and are of great worth to the Africans. Sailors keep them as mementos. Some men gamble, and I’ve known those who lose string upon string in games of chance.

There are some creoles from São Tomé and the Kongo with us—they would not ever be truly welcome in Portugal, and perhaps the chance for escape was strong.

Comparison

Forms of Currency

Comparing forms of currency in West Africa

Akan Gold Weights

Akan goldweights, or mrammou, are weights made of brass. They were used as a measuring system by the Akan people of West Africa, particularly for weighing gold dust, which was currency until replaced by paper money and coins.

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Glass Trade Beads

Another form of currency, glass trade beads were used as a durable and portable form of currency.

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