Project Description

17-393 Mende Sande Society Helmet Mask (sowei)

Sierra Leone

The coiffure of this mask is intricate, with three broad tresses

surmounted by an oval structure. The back of the hairstyle is richly

sculpted with 12 oblong abstract structures and a central rectangle.

The hairstyle culminates into a rounded horn-like structure that

might represent sebe and/or sebbeh, the Mende term for charms or

amulets. The features of each mask’s face is held to a standard, but

individuality has free reign in the design of the coiffures.

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.