Unique and endearing - figures speak of a rich heritage
One of the quirkier discoveries we've made in France is an aspect of West African folk art known as the 'Colon' figures - nothing to do with intestines, rather a reference to the Colonial era. They are colourful, bright and utterly charming - each having their own 'personality' and style.
While they can vary in height, the majority we have found have been around 10" high, making them a significant addition to any room! Their clothes are typically of the era and some sport pith helmets and garish ties. There's something about their posture though, a relaxed confidence, coupled with a raised eyebrow or a wide eyed insouciant look that makes these figures really appealing.
Mostly made by the Baule tribe of the Ivory Coast, no two figures are alike. They represent an interesting mix of cultures and are seen by many as a comment on the complex relationships between the West Africans and the colonisers. According to Phases of Africa, those sporting a Fez were carved by Muslims and those donning a pith helmet were carved by Christians.
Grouped together, these caricatures of an imperialist age create their own narrative.
Undeniably, there is a lightness of humour with these figures and you can't help but smile.