Colonial officer in parade uniform

around 1900

German Historical Museum

German Historical Museum
Berlin, Germany

Such wooden statues are called colon figures. Usually colonizers, i.e. members of the military, the civil administration, doctors or engineers were depicted by locals in this way. These statues have their origin in West Africa. They combine African art with the representation of Europeans. The originally existing painting of this figure was probably destroyed by a caustic bath.

Special uniforms were designed for the colonial troops - for white as well as for black. The officer's clothing does not clearly represent a nation. He could be British or German, because it is not an exact reproduction of a national uniform: the star on the helmet is not German. This shows that from the African point of view the national allocation of the officer by an exact reproduction of a parade uniform was not that important: what is shown is the European colonial man. The European idea of a nation was foreign to the locals and ultimately of no significance. Such figures were probably made as souvenirs for white colonial people. This statue was brought to Germany by a colonial officer together with the colon figure of an Askari of the Schutztruppe (protective troops) German East Africa.

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  • Title: Colonial officer in parade uniform
  • Date Created: around 1900
  • Location: Probably Nigeria or Cameroon
  • Physical Dimensions: 88 cm
  • Subject Keywords: Colonialism
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Deutsches Historisches Museum; Text: Sabine Beneke
  • External Link: DHM collection database
  • Medium: Wood
  • Inventory no.: Pl 2016/5