Kolo Silué

Fono blacksmith and sculptor,
c. 1904–22.02.1982
Nafoun, Côte d’Ivoire

Kolo Silué was a well-known bronze caster in Nafoun saying: “There are many Kolo among us, but I am Kolo the bronze caster (Kagninfambélé Kolo).”

His father, Dolèlètchè Silué, was a blacksmith and a carver of mortars and beating pestles and it was from him that he learned to carve while still a child. However Kolo stopped carving after his father was killed while cutting a tree. Afterwards he only worked with metal. He was an ironworker and when working at the forge became physically too demanding he began casting bronze about 1953. He learned this technique by using bronze objects from other casters as a model. At that time bronze objects were mainly made by members of the Loko group. He learned how to cast bronze from the older Fono caster Tiégama Silué (father of Fonourougo Silué) in Nafoun.

About his career Kolo said:

“I started bronze casting here in Nafoun. At first people laughed at me and said that I would never learn how to do it. Nevertheless I continued to work at it until I learned how to do it. Then I sold all my pieces and became well known. I have travelled to all the villages in the region. In the beginning I went to Boundali, then in the Gbato-Senufo area, afterwards I travelled to Korhogo. When I found a place that I enjoyed I sometimes stayed there a whole month.” (Kolo Silué, 1975)

Kolo Silué making a wax model of an equestrian figure. Photo: Karl-Heinz Krieg, Nafoun (Region of Boundiali, Côte d'Ivoire), 1975

Kolo Silué making a wax model of an equestrian figure. Photo: Karl-Heinz Krieg, Nafoun (Region of Boundiali, Côte d'Ivoire), 1975

Karl-Heinz Krieg knew Kolo Silué as a friend and described him in his notes as filled with humor. From 1975 onwards Kolo made several small bronze pieces and masks for Krieg and through the translations of Sédion Dotremene, explained the meaning of each of the objects. At an advanced age, Kolo Silué began experimenting with modeling cars, airplanes and mopeds. This creativity and enthusiasm for experimentation can already be found in his early work, for example when he combined a wax model of a figure with a real peanut.

Objects by Kolo Silué

Equestrian figure with peanut
(direct cast of an actual peanut)
Kolo Silué
Acquired in Kounoumon, 1975
Bronze, H. 13,5 cm

The peanut on the figure’s head is a direct cast of an actual peanut. The peanut was attached to the modeled wax figure and the figure and peanut were covered with clay. When the clay was baked it melted the wax and burnt out the peanut so that when the bronze was poured in it filled the cavity to shape the figure and peanut in a classic example of the “lost wax technique” of bronze casting.

Burial celebration in Poundiou in 1964. The dancer wears an aluminum mask, which Kolo Silué made in about 1955 for the Fono group in Poundiou. Karl-Heinz Krieg photographed the same mask again during a burial celebration in 1978. Photo: Karl-Heinz Krieg, Poundiou (Region of Boundiali, Côte d'Ivoire), 1964

Kunst und Religion bei den Gbato-Senufo, Krieg and Lohse, 1981, pp. 18, 50, 119
Walu Auctions, Dec 2015, Lot 69


Private notes taken in the field, Karl-Heinz Krieg
Kunst und Religion bei den Gbato-Senufo, Krieg and Lohse, Hamburgisches Museum für Völkerkunde, 1981, p. 26, p. 39, pp. 41–43

Text: Helen Krieg and Daniel Mato, PhD