before 1927

Part of a set. See all set records

Copper alloy

Overall: 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 1982.341.2

Did you know?

From 1822–1847, 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 onwards.


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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