Project Description

17-377  Mende Sande Society Helmet Mask (sowei)

Sierra Leone

The multi-colored yarn attached to the base suggests this mask was retired and then reinvented to represent Gonde.   Gonde is a Ndoli  jowei, an expert in dance who is charged with teaching young Mende girls to dance. Instead of the boot camp Sergeant version of the traditional Ndoli  jowei, Gonde is the comic relief and giver of moral support.  Gonde is a funny, lovable character who lightens the gloom and reminds everyone that initiation is not always so deadly serious.

All of the Sowei/Bundu Masks in this exhibition were collected and donated to our museum by Dr. Pascal J. Imperato and Eleanor M. Imperato.