Chapter 43 โ€“ Cattle and Bead Money of South-West Africa
Publication Year:
This chapter outlines the use of cattle and bead as currency in South-West Africa. Cattle and beads were the original currencies of South-West Africa during the early days of colonization. Among the Nama, Bergdama, and Namib tribes, cattle were until recently the general medium of exchange. Debts were also incurred in cattle. Rifles and ammunition served as a medium of exchange in the 19th century. They also served as a store of value. Tobacco and skins are also among objects formerly used as a medium of exchange in various parts of South-West Africa. European money has displaced to a large degree these various forms of primitive currencies. On the other hand, the advance of civilization produced at times also the opposite effect, in that some tribes reverted to barter instead of using primitive currency. A more preferred currency among the Ovambo, Herero, Nama, and Bergdama was the so-called bushmen's beads. They consisted of discs cut out of ostrich egg shells pierced with an arrow and strung. They were used primarily as ornaments, but also served as a medium of exchange, especially in intertribal trade.
Publication Title:
Primitive Money (Second Edition): In its Ethnological, Historical and Economic Aspects
Item Type:
Book or Magazine Section

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