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Image of Sande Society Sowei Helmet Mask

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Bookmark: http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/195354



unknown Mende
Mende (active ) Primary



Sande Society Sowei Helmet Mask

Mid 20th century
Carved wood

13.583 x 8.858 x 9.606 in. (34.5 x 22.5 x 24.4 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 2016.14.12
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.
  • initiations - Ceremonies formally admitting someone into a community, organization, or other group, or investing them with a particular role or status.
  • masks - Refers to coverings for all or part of the face, usually with openings for the eyes and sometimes the mouth. They are worn to hide or alter the identity of the wearer or for protection. Masks as cultural objects have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age. Masks are extremely varied in appearance, function, and fundamental meaning. They may be associated with ceremonies that have religious and social significance or are concerned with funerary customs, fertility rites, or curing sickness. They may be used on festive occasions or to portray characters in a dramatic performance and in re-enactments of mythological events. They may be used for warfare and as protective devices in certain sports. They are also employed as architectural ornaments.
  • Mende
  • rites of passage - Ritual ceremonies performed to facilitate or mark a person's change of status upon any of several important social and personal occasions, such as the onset of puberty.
  • ritual objects - Objects used for a particular ritual activity, often as part of a ceremony.
  • secret societies - Any of various societies, the members of which are sworn to keep the rules, activities, and purposes secret from nonmembers.
  • Sierra Leonean - Style and culture of the nation of Sierra Leone.
  • 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
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  • Owner Name: Jane Martin, Class of 1953
    Role: Donor
    Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
    Ownership Start Date: November 1984 - November 1985
    Ownership End Date: May 1, 2016


  • Owner Name: Muhammed Sillah
    Role: Seller
    Place: Liberia
    Ownership End Date: November 1984 - November 1985
    Remarks: Likely purchased in Monrovia, Liberia


Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0177757.

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • "Douglas Yaney Gallery: African Tribal Art." (Accessed August 14, 2020): Douglas Yaney Gallery, http://douglasyaney.com/. http://www.douglasyaney.com/y2195-1-main.htm.

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • "ÌMỌ̀ DÁRA." (Accessed May 10, 2020): Imodara.com. https://www.imodara.com/discover/sierra-leone-mende-ndoli-jowei-sande-sowei-helmet-mask/.
  • Ruth B. Phillips, "Masking in Mende Sande Society Initiation Rituals." Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 48, no. 3 (1978): 265-277.
  • J. V. Olufemi Richards, "The Sande Mask." African Arts 7, no. 2 (Winter 1974): 48-51.
  • Frederick Lamp, "Cosmos, Cosmetics, and the Spirit of Bondo." African Arts 18, no. 3 (May 1985): 28-43, 98-99.
  • Syvlia Ardyn Boone, Radiance from the Waters: Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986), 153-161.

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

<ref name=BMC>cite web |url=http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/195354 |title=Sande Society Sowei Helmet Mask |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=8/15/2022 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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