Sherbro or Mende
Mask for Sande Society (Ndoli Jowei), Early/mid-20th century (before 1940)
48.3 x 24.8 x 26.7 cm (19 x 9 3/4 x 10 1/2 in.)
Through prior acquisitions of the George F. Harding Collection, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert R. Molner, and the Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment, 1997.361
Among the culturally related peoples of southeastern Sierra Leone, masquerades are performed to mark significant events in society. The powerful, all-female Sande society, an important sponsor of masquerades, provides its members with a lifelong support network. Senior Sande officials perform wearing masks such as this one at funerals, to honor important visitors, or during the initiation of young women into the society. In costume, the women represent the spirit that animates and supports their organization. The masks are made by male sculptors and worn in performance by women with costumes of blackened raffia fibers.