Antique Fulani Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, West Africa (3150VKE)


H: 2.75”  W: 2.875”  Thick: 0.5” Circum: 8.75” | FREE SHIPPING

Each African region fabricated its own variety of manillas that were typically horseshoe or C-shaped with a ball or flare at the ends with added pieces of metal to the body or, more common, at plain open ends. Ranging from thin delicate shapes to heavy massive pieces, they were embellished with designs of deeply carved lines forming parallel ridges, stamped or incised geometric forms and other motifs. This 18-19th century thick solid Fulani metal bracelet has a smooth rounded outer surface enhanced with deeply etched long triangles, parallel horizontal bands, stamped circles, facets and groves to enhance its unique appearance with flat ends. The aged patina with minor oxidation cracks, bruising, and discolorations are all consistent with its age and extensive use. It is a beautiful bracelet in excellent condition and comes with a wood and metal stand.

Click here for Blog Manillas: Former African Trade Currency.


The Fulani are the most numerous nomadic people on earth and one of the largest ethnic groups in West-Africa. They are mostly Muslim who are primarily nomads and sedentary farmers. For centuries the Fulani, like most peoples from Africa created metalwork African-jewelry arm and ankle bracelets that were symbols of wealth and status, fashion adornments, used ceremonially for births, coming of age, marriages, and burials, to trade for animals and domestic and agricultural goods and as a medium of exchange where there were no banks or conventional currency exchange systems. Since they are so numerous, their African-art  bracelets are found throughout West Africa.  During the colonization of Africa in the 1500s. the British, French and Dutch appropriated these bracelets and began to manufacture their own versions they named manillas. Once a beautiful indigenous form of African-metalwork currency and adornment for and by African peoples, manillas became the currency for the slave trade to the Americas and were referred to as “slave bracelets,” “slave trade money” and “bracelet money” to purchase slaves to work on plantations in the Americas. Slave bracelets were finally prohibited for use by foreign traders under the Manilla Currency Ordinance of 1919 but continued to be used by the West African Currency Board for several decades. The 1940s and 50’s witnessed a strong and successful movement to collect, confiscate and meltdown manillas to use for other purposes. Manillas are still worn by slave descendants in the Caribbean as a significant family treasure to pass on to future generations.



Additional information

Place of Origin

Africa, West Africa


Antique (1200-1920)


18-19th Century

Materials and Technique

Bronze/brass/copper alloy

Dimensions (inches)

H: 2.75" W: 2.87" Thick: .44" Circum: 8.75"

Dimensions (metric)

H: 6 cm W: 7.28 cm Thick: 1.1 cm Circum: 22.2 cm




Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use, no restorations/repairs

Reference Number