Antique Fulani Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, West Africa (3159XLR)


H: 2.75”  W: 3.125”  Thick: 0.375” Circum. 8.25” | FREE SHIPPING

This early 19th century Fulani bracelet has its origin in Mali or Niger. As nomadic people, bracelets and anklets such as this were an ideal form of currency that was wearable, easily portable, and available for occasional major purchases. This circular thin C-shaped manilla has a rounded smooth surface inside and out. It is divided visually into six sections with incised crosshatch and linear designs. The copper-colored surface has a fine patina and it is in excellent  condition with signs of use consistent with its age.  It comes with a wood and metal stand.



The Fulani are one of the largest ethnic groups in West-Africa and the Sahel, and are among the largest groups in Africa, number 38-40 million, are the most numerous nomadic people on earth and are known for their metalwork. Called Peul or Fulbe and mostly Muslim, their largest numbers are nomads and sedentary farmers. The Fulani crafted African-metalwork manillas locally, considered them attractive body ornaments, wore them as African-jewelry indications of wealth and for ceremonial purposes such as births, coming of age, marriages, and burials and also used them as currency to buy or trade for animals and domestic and agricultural goods. As so many were nomadic traders, their manillas were found almost everywhere in West Africa and Northern Central Africa. During the colonization of Africa in the 1500s, the British, French, Portugese, Belgians and Dutch appropriated these bracelets and manufactured their own versions they named manillas. Once a beautiful indigenous form of 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, currency slave bracelets and slave currency 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 African-jewelry worn by slave descendants in the Caribbean as a significant family treasure to pass on to future generations.


Click here for Blog Manillas: Former African Trade Currency.

Additional information

Place of Origin

Africa, West Africa


Antique (1200-1920)


18-19th Century


4.7 oz

Materials and Technique

Bronze/brass/copper alloy

Dimensions (inches)

H: 2.75” W: 3.125” Thick .375” Circum: 8.25”

Dimensions (metric)

H: 6.98 cm W: 7.92 cm Thick: 1.85 cm Circum: 20.95 cm


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

Reference Number