Mende Helmet Mask
Mende Helmet Mask
Mende Helmet Mask

Mende Helmet Mask

1890 to 1930 Sierra Leone

Offered by Peter Petrou

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A good tribal mask with fine symmetrical features and large neck rolls. The coiffure shows detailed braiding together with greased multiple pigtails, particularly fashionable at the end of the 19th century. Probably from the Sherbro Region

These sowei masks are worn by members of the Sande women’s society and have an idealised female face whose features conform to conventions symbolising religious and philosophical ideals as well as beauty. For instance as a general rule the following conventions are adhered to:

Full forehead - denoting wisdom and intelligence
Down cast eyes - associated with the mysterious essence of the spirit which inhabits the mask.
The closed or slightly open small mouth - suggests seriousness and silence of the spirit.
Shining black colour - mystery of the river-dwelling spirit.
Neck rings - health
The eyes should also be slightly oversized, indicating knowledge and wisdom and the mouth and nose smaller than life-size.
Representing Woman, Sande Masquerades of the Mende of Sierra Leone, Ruth B. Phillips pub.UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History 1995.
African Masks from the Barbier Mueller Collection, pub. Geneva 1998
Hair in African Art and Culturem, The Museum for African Art, New York pub. Prestel, 2000
Height 38.00 cm (14.96 inches)
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Peter Petrou

Peter Petrou
c/o BADA, 20 Rutland Gate

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