headdress (head ornament); headdress (dance & live theatre)

Carved wooden figurative masquerade headpiece showing a head on a long ringed neck, wearing a crown.

This masquerade headpiece, topped with a crowned head on a long, ringed neck shows no distinguishing features that could be said to belong to Victoria, other than its crown. We cannot assume therefore that it is actually intended as a portrait of the British queen. Instead it may have been intended to represent a spirit depicted as a high-status woman wearing a crown-like headdress. The exaggerated rings on its long neck, known as ‘cut-neck’, are idealised forms representing special beauty that are applied to various Mende, Sherbro, Gola, Vai, and Temne sculpted objects and especially ones used in the context of the women’s Sande initiation association (see Phillips, R. B., 1995,116). Head pieces of this form were used by the Gola and Vai in masquerades of the male mbowui and gbetu associations.

Collection Information

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