African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Mende mask

Mende mask (N° 22061) Deposit sale

In African art, sowei masks, a feminine ideal in Mende culture, embody aquatic spirits. This mask made of light wood is a variant of the bundu among the most important masks among the Mendé. The face is concentrated in the lower part, while a sophisticated headdress, in shells, rises. The folds represent an abundance of flesh, a symbol of prosperity.
Painted black or tinted with a leaf wash, the mask was then rubbed with palm oil. Velvety matte patina, kaolin residue, grainy deposits, abrasions from> The Mende, Vai and Gola cultures of Sierra Leone, Liberia and the west coast of Guinea are known for the helmet masks of the female initiation society Sandé which prepares young girls for the marriage . The male society is the Poro society. Relatively rare in sub-Saharan Africa, these masks are made by men and worn by women.
To close the rituals, a "spirit" appears, wearing this mask lined with long fibers of raffia, and waving a whip in order to chase away malevolent spirits and sorcerers.

("African art" Kerchache and "African masks from the Barbier-Mueller collection" coll. Adam Biro)  


This item is sold with its certificate of authenticity

Estimated shipping cost

OriginCollection Prodhomme
CountrySierra Léone
Height cm42
Width17 cm
Weight0.70 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle inclusOptional

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