Antique Massive Djerma King Manilla – African Currency – Niger
End 19th century. Copper grams 2.764,0 (97.50 oz.). Cm. 11,5 high x cm. 13,3 width (4.53″ x 5.24″).
Manillas are a form of money, usually made of bronze or copper, which were used in West Africa. They were produced in large numbers in a wide range of designs, sizes, and weights. Originating before the colonial period, perhaps as the result of trade with the Portuguese Empire, Manillas continued to serve as money and decorative objects until the late 1940s and are still used as decorative objects in some contexts.
The name manilla is said to derive from the Spanish for a ‘bracelet’ manella, the Portuguese for ‘hand-ring’ manilha, or after the Latin manus (hand) or from monilia, plural of monile (necklace).
The Djerma live in the arid lands of the Sahel. Many live in the Niger River valley and exploit the river for irrigation. They grow millet, sorghum, rice, corn (maize), and tobacco and raise cotton and peanuts (groundnuts) as cash crops. Horses and especially cattle are an important source of wealth for the Djerma, and there has long been a trade pattern whereby cattle are driven south for sale in coastal countries. Milk is an important element of the daily diet. Horses are kept by important persons, and in the past the Djerma were skilled cavalrymen.
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