Bundu Masks
Mende Bundu Masks Title Banner_edited-1

BUNDU Sowei Headpieces

of the Sande Society

Throughout the vast continent of Africa, hundreds of wooden masks are danced by over one thousand different peoples in celebrations and for rituals occasions. Only men, however, are traditionally permitted to engage in these events. The Mende women of Sierra Leone and Liberia are the sole exception to this rule. Initiation and participation in the Sande Secret Society (also called Bundu today) have historically earned the Mende women the respect, same privileges, political power, economic freedom and equal rights afforded their male counterparts.

With over 50 of these headpieces in our holdings, the museum has one of the largest public collection in the world. One dozen are on permanent display in the Imperato West African Gallery, and 20 more are going on permanent display in 2023 and a curated assortment are available for loan in a touring exhibition called "Changing Faces." Please contact the museum at osajohns@yahoo.com to learn more about bringing these amazing female empowerment artifacts to a museum or educational venue near you.