Sande Association Helmet Mask, Mende. Sierra Leone

Regular price $6,250.00

Mende People. Sierra Leone: Sande Association Helmet Mask, 19th/20th Century. Carved wood with dark patina and lighter areas of wear and native repair. The mask rests on a custom-made steel stand.

The Sande Association is an association of women, whose members wear helmet masks depicting their ideals of beauty and prestige. The masks embody the guardian spirit, Sowo.

In most African societies, only men are entitled to carve or wear masks. The exception is the Sande helmet mask: although carved by men, it is worn exclusively by women.

The women's Sande society traditionally initiated girls into womanhood by preparing them for marriage, family life, and participation in community life. At the culmination of their instruction, they were introduced to the community as adult women by leaders wearing a voluminous raffia fiber costumes and wooden helmet masks that embodied sowei, the water spirit and guardian deity of the Sande society.

Comparative Sande Association masks can be seen in Robbins and Nooter, AFRICAN ART IN AMERICAN COLLECTIONS, Page 151, plates 263 through 275.

DIMENSIONS: 30"H x 10"W x 12"D; 49"H on stand.

PROVENANCE: Private collection.

CONDITION: Fair condition with native repairs to wood losses and a repair to a stress crack in the side of the mask.