Antique Senufo Manilla Currency/Slave Trade Bracelet, West Africa (3144QAS) $185


H: 2.75”  W: 3.625”  Thick: 1” Circum. 9.375” | FREE SHIPPING IN CONTINENTAL u.s.

Metal bracelets known as manillas were locally made and used as currency and a medium of exchange to trade or barter, pay for significant events and to display status or social position. This antique intricate Senufo copper alloy bracelet is decorated with incised parallel ridges covering its 3-sections which have sets of raised bosses and flattened discs at each end. Very heavy bracelets like this were not worn but were were used to store wealth, make purchases, buy or trade for livestock and goods, or as a bridal dowry or for ceremonial purposes such as weddings and burials. In excellent condition with a fine patina and the usual signs of age and use, it also has a wood and metal stand.

Click here for Blog Manillas: Former African Trade Currency.


The Senufo of Mali number between 1.5 and 2.7 million people in West Africa and are primarily agricultural. They are renown as remarkable musicians and carvers of wood figures and masks. For centuries the Senufu created metalwork arm and ankle bracelets that were symbols of wealth and status, fashion adornments used ceremonially for births, coming of age, marriages, and burials and traded for animals and domestic and agricultural goods as a medium of exchange where there were no banks or conventional currency exchange systems. 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 currency and African jewelry 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. In the 1940s and 50’s, manillas were confiscated and melted down into metals to use for other purposes. Manillas are still worn by slave descendants in the Caribbean and are considered a significant treasure to pass on to future generations.

Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique (1200-1920)


18-19th Century

Materials and Technique

Bronze/brass/copper alloy

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 2.75” W: 3.625” Thick: 1” Circum: 9.375”

Dimensions (metric)

H: 6.98 W: 9.14 Thick 2.54 Circum: 23.8


7.9 oz

Item Number



Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use

Shipping Box Size