Antique Tuareg Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, Africa (3152XKM) $285


Bracelet H: 3.875”  W: 3.5”  Thick: 1.125” | FREE SHIPPING

This 18-19th century manilla from the Tuareg people in Mali and Niger was fashioned using a sand mould in a distinctive horseshoe shape with bulbous rounded faceted ends. The ends are finely decorated with hand hammered diamond shapes enclosing finely incised checkerboard cross-hatching which have faded from age and wear. Individual Tuareg tribes each use unique symbolic imagery and decorative motifs which were passed down for generations. This bracelet is in excellent condition with a fine patina indicating much wear and some minor pitting, scrapes and discolorations consistent with its age. It comes with a wood and metal stand.



Historically nomadic tribal people who traversed the Sahel region and Saharan-Africa, the Tuareg, like many African peoples, created metalwork African art and jewelry arm and ankle bracelets. They were, symbols of wealth and status and 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, as there were no banks or conventional currency exchange systems. Individual Tuareg tribes use unique African jewelry symbolism and decorative motifs passed down for generations. Dassine Oult-Yemma, the Poet of the Ahaggar wrote that sticks indicate legs of men, camels and other animals, crosses or x’s indicate guiding signals at roads and circles have a spiritual meaning. “We start from our heart, and move from circle to circle ever more widely, into the Circle of Life, like the horizon circles around you and your herd.” (Hagan and Meyers). During the Africa’s colonization in the 1500s, the British, French, Portuguese, Belgians and Dutch appropriated African metalwork bracelets manufacturing their own in Europe and calling them manillas. They became the slave currency referred to as slave bracelets, slave trade money and slave currency used to purchase slaves to work on plantations in the Americas. Prohibited for use by foreign traders under the Manilla Currency Ordinance of 1919, in the 1940s and 50’s they were collected, confiscated and melted down as reusable metals purposes. Manillas are still worn by slave descendants in the Caribbean as a significant family treasure to pass on to future generations.  The measurement is without the stand.

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


Helen E. Hagan and Lucile Meyers, Tuareg Jewelry: Traditional Patterns and Symbols, Xlibrus Corporation, 2006.

Additional information

Place of Origin


Materials and Technique

Bronze/brass/copper alloy


Antique (1200-1920)


19-20th Century

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 3.875" W: 3.5" D: 1.125"

Dimensions (metric)

H:8.55cm W: 8.89cm D: 2.54cm


15 oz


Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use

Reference Number


Shipping Box Size