"Sande Society Art and Dance" Top 5 Page for this destination Sierra Leone Things to Do Tip by Ekahau

Sierra Leone Things to Do: 8 reviews and 9 photos

  Sande Society Mask
by Ekahau

Sande Society Art and Dance

The mask in the Photo is from the Sande Society in Sierra Leone it is worn by a mature woman as part of an initiation ceremony for young girls entering adulthood. The mask represents the ideal of womanhood and feminine beauty among Mende women.
The rings on the neck represent another aspect of feminine beauty. The neighboring Temne people associate the sowei spirit with the butterfly and so may the Mende. It is possible that the rings on the mask symbolize the female's emergence from childhood to adulthood just as the rings on the chrysalis mark the transformation of the pupa to the mature butterfly. Most likely, the bird on the crown of the mask is a hen. referring to motherhood and its responsibilities.
A woman must be of a certain rank to commission a mask from a carver. The carver is a man in the community possessing special knowledge of spiritual and social concerns. She tells him the name of the spirit that the mask will represent, and he "dreams" the appropriate form. The resulting mask can be worn only by this woman, and only she can call forth the spirit.

Address: The Mende live in a hilla around Bo
Directions: Imagine the awesome appearance of this beautiful black mask worn by a woman with raffia swirling about her as she moved. The sowei spirit escorts the girls into initiation, provides guidance while they are in training for adulthood.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jul 12, 2003
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Ekahau Used To Live Here!


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