African art > Mask > Mende Mask

Mende Bundu / Sowei Mask (N° 18144)

In African art, sowei form an idealized representation of female beauty through Mende culture. They embody aquatic spirits. This cephalomorphic mask forms a copy of the type of masks named bundu the most important in the Mendes. The face has a high bulging forehead forming the top half. The features are concentrated tightly in the lower part, which is engulfed in a neck where the folds symbolizing prosperity appear an abundance of flesh. Painted black or tinted with a leaf brush, the mask was then rubbed with palm oil. Semi-saturated patina, Grainy residual inlays, desication cracks and indigenous restoration using resin on a ridge.br-The Mende, Vaï and Gola cultures of Sierra Leone, Liberia and the west coast of Guinea are known in African art for masks and especially those of the women's initiation society Sandé which prepares young girls for marriage. The male society is Poro. 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 with long raffia fibers, and waving a whip in order to drive out malevolent spirits and sorcerers.

African art Kerchache and African masks from the Barbier-Mueller collection Adam Biro)  

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OriginCollection Prodhomme
EthnyMende
Countrysierra leone
Material(s)wood
Height41
Width20
Weight1.20 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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