Antique Senufo Manilla Currency/Slave Trade Bracelet, West Africa (3143WOE)


H: 3.125”  W: 4”  Thick: 1.125.5” Circum: 9.5” | FREE SHIPPING

This very elaborate and exquisite Senufo heavy brass alloy manilla with a high copper content is ornately embellished and divided into three sections, each decorated with deeply carved geometric panels within horizontal bars across its surface. Pairs of raised ball-like metal pieces frame each section, and the openings of the C-shaped bracelet end in flat round discs. This remarkable and elegant manilla is in excellent condition and has a fine patina that shows its age, long use, and wear. It comes with a wood and metal stand. The measurement is without the stand.



The Senufo, numbering between 1.5 and 2.7 million people in West-Africa, are primarily agricultural. They live in mud-brick farm houses in large villages and are renown as remarkable musicians, creators of wood figures, masks and metalwork tribal-art. For centuries, they like many groups created African-metalwork and African-jewelry in the form of arm and ankle bracelets as symbols of wealth and status and as fashion adornments used for birth, coming of age, marriage and burial ceremonies, to trade and barter for animals and domestic and agricultural goods and as a medium of exchange as there were no banks or conventional money exchange systems. Since they are so numerous, their manilla bracelets are found throughout West Africa. During Africa’s colonization in the 1500s, the British, French and Dutch appropriated them and began to manufacture bracelets in Europe calling them manillas. Once a beautiful indigenous African metalwork adornment and currency made  for and by Africans, manillas became the currency of the slave trade to the Americas and were known as slave bracelets, slave trade money and bracelet money used to purchase slaves to work on plantations in the Americas. Finally prohibited for use by foreign traders under the Manilla Currency Ordinance of 1919, they continued to be used for several decades. Finally, the 1940s and 50s witnessed a successful movement to collect, confiscate and meltdown manillas to use for other purposes. Still worn by slave descendants in the Caribbean, they are considered a significant family treasure of African-art to pass on to future generations. This piece is part of the VA African-Art and Tribal Art Collections.

Click here for the Blog Manillas: Former African Trade Currency.







Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique (1200-1920)


19th Century

Materials and Technique

Bronze/brass/copper alloy

Dimensions (inches)

H: 3.125" W: 4" Thick 1.125" Circum: 9.5"

Dimensions (metric)

H: 2.20cm W: 2.82cm Thick: .79cm Circum: 6.7cm



Weight Metric



Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use

Reference Number


Shipping Box Size