Mitako currency, Congo
19" total length, each ring is approximately 4" x 4" and there are 10 rings
from the Alan Helms collection, Boston, MA
ex private NYC collection
$400 - SOLD
"Short lengths (about six inches) of copper wire (ngiele) in the form of rings were called mitako. Imported brass
(mitako) also were used later as well. Every area had it's own standards, which also changed as time passed
because people cut off small pieces for an extra profit. In 1890, the Bangala standard mitako was 20" long and
worth 15 centimes. The Lower Congo mitako was 27" in 1884, 10" in 1894, and 4-1/2" in 1909. At one time a male
slave was worth 600 mitako; a female slave, 200; a fowl, 10; and an egg, one mitako. Ten Nzimbu (cowries) are
worth one mitako. In 1905 the Bahuana values were 10 olive shells, (nzimbu) worth one mitako, and 20 mitako,
worth one fowl. One hundred mitako were worth two or three pounds of salt. Twenty salts (worth 2,000 mitako)
were worth a male slave."
From "An Ethnographic Study of Traditional Money" by Charles J. Opitz.
See page 225 for examples of Mitako currency.