"Bundus --Mende Helmet Mask" Top 5 Page for this destination Sierra Leone Things to Do Tip by Ekahau

Sierra Leone Things to Do: 8 reviews and 9 photos

  Ritual Mask
by Ekahau

Mende Helmet Mask -- This kind of mask, also called bundu, is what is worn at the ceremonies celebrating womanhood by the Mende people The mask's appearance at girls' initiation ceremonies, but is also shows up in public to mark important civic events such as the visits of important dignitaries. I remember the mask showing up when Queen Elizabeth visited Sierra Lone for example.

Full forehead = Wisdom, intelligence
Somnolent, downcast eyes = Modesty
Shining black color = Mystery
Neck rings = Health and prosperity (as well as the mask's mythic rise out of the water)
Birds = Messengers between spirits and humans
Cowries = Wealth
White cloth = Ritual purity
Fish, snakes, tortoises = The riverine home of sowo
Antelope horns and lasimo (scripture) = "Good medicine" (hale nyande)
Three-legged cooking pot = represents sowo as a repository of women's knowledge, and as a symbol of domesticity

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  • Updated Aug 10, 2015
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