Current Location:
Section O (OS) -> Shelf O2 (OS)
Location Notes:
IDC; Open Shelving; Section O; Shelf 2

Sowei Helmut Mask, Mende, Sierra Leon

Artist Unknown
Gift of Barbara Paxson
Carved Wood
Artworks - Height: 11" Width: 7" Depth: 8"
Hollow wooden mask carving with a face on the front and detailed carvings throughout. Large crack through the back of the wood.
Historical Context:
This mask was carved by members of the Mende Tribe from Sierra Leon. The mask would have been worn by the elders of the women's coming of age society, or the Sande society. Each carved detail has symbolic meaning, representing the ideals of feminine beauty and power. The elaborate hair design represents friendship, or having those close to her who would take the time to braid her hair. The mask has a high, smooth forehead, representing how women should be rational and a small nose and mouth as women should not be a gossip. The eyes are closed on the mask to represent the focus the wearer has on the spirit world. The would would have once been a darker black, a color representing civilization to the Mende people.