mask (dance & live theatre)

Wooden helmet mask, associated with the Sande (Mende) or Bondo (Temne) female initiation society. It has three central ridges adoring horizontal cornrows. The front of the mask has an unusually elogated face, with three rings of segmentation around the neck.

Such masks are worn by a high ranking member of the society during performances as the 'dancing sowei', known as the ndoli jowei among the Mende and the a-Nowo among the Temne. Usually a thin ring of black dyed raffia is attached to the bottom of the mask through a series of holes, or a protruding ridge. In this case the mask may not have been used as no such holes exist.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

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