Manilla anklets/armlets, often called "slave bracelets", originated a form of money. Appearing before the colonial period, manillas were often worn to display wealth and used in trade. While not commonly used today, with most being melted down due to their association with the slave trade, manillas are sometimes still included in a marriage dowry.
These manilla are of Tuareg origin. Very scarce, these anklets are solid and very heavy. Created using a sand mold, these are typically made of a copper or bronze and silver melange. A distinctive shape with four flat facets, each design is attributed to a unique Tuareg tribe. These particular symbols represent the watering of the crops, symbols which can also be seen in traditional indigenous Moroccan amazingh tattoos.
The Tuareg are traditionally independent nomadic herders, crossing the southern Sahara desert by camel. Influential in the spread of Islam, they produce no masks or figures--prohibited in Islamic society--but instead create an impressive world of traditional, abstract, functional objects of leather, wood and metal.
This manilla was sourced in the southern Morocco town of Zagora, Morocco, but likely originates from Tuareg tribes lower in Africa who travelled north across the Sahara desert. The etching is still very clear; most manilla found today have had the etched rubbed away by the sands of time. A silver/copper mix that is more silver in appearance than in the photos.