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Bank of Canada Review

Summer 2005

Changes in the Indicator Properties of Narrow Monetary Aggregates
by Tracy Chan, Ramdane Djoudad, and Jackson Loi

Estimating the Impact of Monetary Policy Surprises on Fixed-Income Markets
by Jason Andreou

Recent Trends in Canadian Defined-Benefit Pension Sector Investment and Risk Management
by Eric Tuer and Elizabeth Woodman

See also: Tables A1, A2, and Notes to the Tables

Full Review (PDF, 223 kb)

Cover: African Marriage Money

Sophie Drakich, Curator, Currency Museum

Early African indigenous currencies were often modelled on everyday objects, including tools, weapons, and jewellery. The four objects depicted on the cover were durable metal currencies representing a store of wealth that denoted socio-political status. They also served a very special purpose as bride wealth and dowry payments.

The use of bride wealth (or bride price) in marriage contracts was, and still is, a common practice among many African societies. Before a marriage could take place, the prospective husband and his family paid his future wife's family a large sum of money or valuable goods, such as cowry shells, livestock, and metal currencies, to compensate for the loss of their daughter's economic services and her future children. A dowry was paid by the bride's family to the bride herself, although sometimes it was paid to the husband for safekeeping, or to the husband and wife together.

The marriage currencies shown here originated in west central Africa (Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and are generally made of iron or copper, which were associated with fertility in pre-colonial Africa. The tall spear, called blade money, or liganda, was used by the Turumbu and Lokele peoples. Its blade was formed from two thin sheets of fused iron and featured parallel lines chiselled along the sides. Blades varied in height from 50 to 200 cm; the example here is 173 cm. The hoe-shaped blade money used by the Ngbaka people was made of forged iron. Supported on a cylindrical shaft, it features a finial at the top and wing-like extensions at the sides and is a good example of currency modelled on an agricultural implement.

The anchor-shaped money, or mandjong, used by the Kwélé people reflects a colonial European influence. The pre-colonial form of this currency was modelled on local crossbows, but with the arrival of European traders in the early twentieth century, the shape was adapted to resemble the anchors of their boats.

Some women wore their dowries. The copper anklet, or konga, worn by wealthy women of the Ekonda was so heavy (7 kg) that it was lined with a padding of vegetable fibre to protect the woman's skin. Like the other marriage currencies shown here, it is a striking object, demonstrating the technical skills and beauty that justify these items as works of art.

The metal marriage currencies pictured on the cover are part of the National Currency Collection, Bank of Canada.

Photography by Gord Carter, Ottawa