Goldweights are small objects cast from brass used to weigh out quantities of gold and gold dust. They are cast using a lost-wax casting technique, wherein wax is sculpted into the desired shape and a mold is pressed around the wax model. Then, the mold is heated and the wax drained out, leaving a void in the shape of the original wax model. Liquid brass is poured into the mold and allowed to set before the caster cracks the mold open and retrieves the finished goldweight.
The Akan gold fields were an important source of West African gold from antiquity through the 20th century. Gold was traded on a global scale through both the trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic trades. The use of gold in long-distance exchange was facilitated by the use of standardized weight measurements. Goldweights, based on divisions of the Islamic ounce, were widely employed throughout the Akan area to measure the quantity and value of gold.
Akan goldweights take many shapes. Different sized goldweights measure different amounts and values of gold dust. Goldweights also vary by their aesthetic attributes. Geometric designs are common and are found in the earliest archaeological contexts. Later goldweights take many figurative forms, often linked to proverbs, jokes, and poems. Still other goldweights duplicate adrinka, a system of visual symbols used in cloth decoration.
A head of a man with an object in his mouth, possibly fruit? There is only the head present, no longer attached to a neck. The man has very dramatic slanted eyes and short hair. His mouth is open slightly to make room for the fruit that appears to have a box-like design on it.
This black silk crepe kimono is decorated with chrysanthemum motifs, and has an inner red lining.
The technique used to create the design on this kimono is yuzen, developed in 17th century Japan. Yuzen require much skill and hard work, by first protecting the design area with a rice-paste resist and dying the rest of the cloth. Afterwards, the resist is removed and the design and details are hand-painted.
Horizontal landscape of a misty harbor view with several small boats in distance near center
Quickly executed oil sketch depicting Jamaica Bay, a shallow inlet of the Atlantic on the southwestern shore of Long Island between the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
While the simplicity of the composition may arise from the informal nature of the sketch itself, it also reflects the shift in taste at that time away from the elaborate, minutely detailed, and geographically specific landscapes for which Church is best known.
This is a clear glass inkwell with a metal collar and sphere finial lid. The body has a hollow glass sphere resting on a base of three solid glass spheres. Each of the spheres is decorated with painted leaves and flowers.
As with most objects of daily use, inkwells could be modest and utilitarian or more fanciful, the latter employing lavish use of precious materials to reflect and enhance the status of the possessor. Inkwells in the UMMA collections demonstrate a rich variety of materials, including silver, crystal, ceramic, and metal. Some pre-date the emergence of the fountain pen, and many mark the transition from a quill or nib pen to the convenience of the pocket pen commonly found today. Inkwells are avidly collected by those who value the artistry that went into the creation of a beautiful object for everyday life.
In this large scroll Gao depicts a duck swimming among aquatic plants in the shade of a cluster of lotus.
Gao Qipei was an accomplished painter with an unusual technique: instead of using a brush, he painted with his fingertips, nails, palms, and the backs of his hands. The lively execution, harmonious washes, and untrammeled, variegated effects—impossible to achieve with a brush—demonstrate Gao’s consummate skill in finger painting.