About this artwork
Until Sierra Leone was affected by a brutal civil war lasting from 1991 to 2002, helmet masks like the one displayed here were governed by the Sande association. Common among the related Sherbro and Mende peoples, this all-female group held important religious, political, and educational responsibilities. Masks with elaborate hairstyles, exemplifying local ideals of beauty, were performed by senior Sande officials at funerals, for visits of important guests, and during the initiation of young women into the association. This is one of the rare instances in Africa when women danced with sculpted masks.
- Female Helmet Mask (Ndoli Jowei)
- Sierra Leone
- 48.3 × 24.8 × 26.7 cm (19 × 9 3/4 × 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