African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Mende Mask
Mende Bundu Sowei Mask (N° 13585)
Ex-collection Of Luxembourg African art.
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The sowei are an idealized representation of female beauty seen through the Mende culture.They embody aquatic spirits. Featuring scarifications under hollowed-out palpebral slits, this African Mende mask is a copy of the type of masks named bundu the most important among mendé. It has a high bulging forehead occupying the upper half of the face, the features concentrating in the lower half. Incisions follow one another between the rings of the neck that evoke an abundance of flesh symbol of prosperity. The bun headdress consists of fine braids picked up in side shells. Painted black or tinted with a leaf brush, the mask was then rubbed with palm oil. Skate to the velvety touch. Localized abrasions revealing a light wood. The Mende, Vaï and Gola cultures, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the west coast of Guinea, are known in African art for the hexagonal masks and in particular those of the women's initiation society Sandé which prepares young girls for the marriage. The male society is the Poro company. Relatively rare in sub-Saharan Africa, these masks are made by men and worn by women.
To close the rituals, a "esprit" appears, wearing this mask lined with long raffia fibers, and waving a whip in order to drive out malevolent spirits and sorcerers.
("L 'African artU'0022 Kerchache and "African masks from the Barbier-Mueller" et al. Adam Biro collection)
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