Take a Look at One of the Most Unique Forms of Currency and the People Who Use It

April 08, 2021

Take a Look at One of the Most Unique Forms of Currency and the People Who Use It - Kanju Interiors

A Distinctive Form of Currency With a Unique Artistic Element 

Hand crafted and used for everything from trade to ceremonial gifts by the Mumuye people.

Thought to be one of the most distinctive forms of zoomorphic currency, the Mumuye Torch is a historical and traditional piece used for a variety of purposes in addition to being a striking, sculptural décor piece. An iron pole with a bunch of thin blades sticking out of it, the Nigerian iron wand with twisting, hand forged serpents pointing upwards to the sky, giving the piece a wonderful aesthetic shape. Forged of an iron spike spitting into 'branches', without any points of welding. Used by the Gourmangé speaking peoples (Mumuye, Lobi, etc.) in North Eastern Nigeria. Thought to be used for currency, trade, bridal dowry negotiations, and often held during ceremonies to ask for rain prior to crop harvest. 

The Mumuye are an ethnic group living in current day Nigeria. These people constitute the largest tribal group in the Taraba State of Nigeria and form many of the predominant tribes found in Zing, Yorro, Jalingo, Ardo-Kola, Lau, Gassol, Bali, and Gashaka; in addition to many parts of the neighboring Adamawa State. For decades, most Mumuye sculptures were misattributed to their neighbors, the Chamba. In the 1970s, these sculptures were correctly associated with the distinctive style of the Mumuye people, often including a long, narrow pole-like style. From the 17th to early 19th century, the Mumuye people fled the Fulani holy wars into the hills of eastern Nigeria where they divided into small, relatively isolated communities. The Benue River Valley, where they set up communities, had comparatively little natural resources to offer European colonialists so they have been able to remain relatively isolated and at peace for hundreds of years.  

These beautiful, sculptural pieces are eye-catching in any space thanks to their unique style and craftsmanship. A perfect way to add a bit of history and tradition to your home. 


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