Horsehead On Sterling Silver Bolo

Kathy (Elk Woman) Whitman


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An artist of many talents, she has won prestigious prizes for sculpture, painting, clothing, and jewelry – once, at least, all blue ribbons for all four categories at the same Santa Fe Indian Market!

She is a Plains Indian, of Sioux background. This bolo shows off her sculptural sensibility, Plains-tribe love of horses, and sense of lyrical line.

The textures and flowing lines of the bolo suggest speed and motion; the horse’s handsome head is stretched proudly. Carved from Picasso marble, it stands out – literally and figuratively – from the silver background.

The jagged form of the silver back refers to the rocky ground the horse travels on, and the pointed shape suggests an arrowhead, referring to galloping Plains warriors.

The background is covered with lightly etched curlicues, like a hose’s mane blowing in the wind, and tiny hoofprints, as well. From a normal distance, these blend into an all-over textured effect.

Around the horse’s head, enfolding it in an embrace, is an abstract suggestion of a human form, with a hand that seems to emerge from a sleeve, and a round, spiral element at the top right. This rounded, barely recognizable form is like a phantom rider.

The clearly defined hand is also a design element – highly polished and plain, in contrast to the textured background. On another level, the hand refers to the Plains custom of “counting coup”: touching your enemy, with a hand, or a weapon, but not harming him, was considered a high form of bravery and skill.

The tips are mini-sculptures in themselves, textured all over, with raised, polished water signs, different on each cylindrical tip.

Each tip has a triangular dangle: on one side of each is a hoofprint; on the other, the spiral path, or river, of life.

The whole is a remarkably unique piece of wearable art. This is one bolo that will be a compliment-magnet and spark many conversations.

It makes a definitive statement of beauty, individuality, excellent metal-smithing, and creative references to the artist’s heritage. In a word, this is outstanding.



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