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Image of Sande Society Sowei Helmet Mask

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unknown Mende
Mende (active ) Primary

Sande Society Sowei Helmet Mask

Mid 20th century
Carved wood

12.402 x 7.953 x 8.78 in. (31.5 x 20.2 x 22.3 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 2016.14.9
Geography: Africa, Sierra Leone
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Masks
Culture/Nationality: Mende, Sierra Leonean, West African, African
Collection: Jane Martin Collection

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • African - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • braids - Patterns created by intertwining three or more strands of material into a plait. This is often achieved with human hair or used as the basis of a hairstyle.
  • carvings - Refers to works executed by cutting a figure or design out of a solid material such as stone or wood. It typically refers to works that are relatively small in size, are part of a larger work, or are not considered art. For large and medium-sized three-dimensional works of art, use the broader term "sculpture" or another appropriate term.
  • ceremonial masks - Refers to masks created for or used in ceremonies or rituals.
  • damage - Physical injury to a thing, such as impairs its value or usefulness.
  • helmet masks - Masks that enclose the head entirely or in part, especially those worn during African ceremonies and masquerades.
  • horns - The non-deciduous excrescences, often curved and pointed, consisting of an epidermal sheath growing about a bony core on the head of certain mammals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and antelopes, or formed from matted hair on the rhinoceros. Horns serve as displays and as weapons of offence or defense.
  • initiations - Ceremonies formally admitting someone into a community, organization, or other group, or investing them with a particular role or status.
  • leaves - Outgrowths, usually green and flattened, that extend from the stem of a vascular plant. Botanically, leaves are an integral part of the stem system, and they are initiated in the apical bud along with the tissues of the stem itself. Leaves manufacture food for plants, which in turn ultimately nourish and sustain all land animals, directly or indirectly.
  • Mende
  • ritual objects - Objects used for a particular ritual activity, often as part of a ceremony.
  • scarifications - Refers to permanent marks, such as symbols, patterns, or other designs, made on human skin by scarring, done for social or cultural reasons or for personal decoration.
  • secret societies - Any of various societies, the members of which are sworn to keep the rules, activities, and purposes secret from nonmembers.
  • West African - Styles and cultures from the region comprising the westernmost area of the African continent, defined by the United Nations as including the modern nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  • women - Refers to female human beings from young adulthood through old age.
  • wood - The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_f_2.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_b.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_b_2.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_f.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_pl.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_pl_2.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_pr.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_pr_2.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_r.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_r_2.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_t.jpg
Additional Image 2016.14.9_BMC_t_2.jpg

Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): Record No.: 0177758.

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Frederick Lamp, "Cosmos, Cosmetics, and the Spirit of Bondo." African Arts 18, no. 3 (May 1985): 28-43, 98-99.

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Sande Society Sowei Helmet Mask |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=5/28/2023 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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