Mende Sande Helmut Mask, Sierra Leone #144

$ 3,400.00 $ 6,800.00
Shipping calculated at checkout.
  • Mende Sande Helmut Mask, Sierra Leone
  • Magnificent helmet mask from the Mende ethnic group of Sierra Leone and Guinea. These masks were generally used by a society of women, the Sande, for the most solemn celebrations, carrying out justice duties, funeral ceremonies and initiation, to incorporate the Sande society. During the initiation, high ranked women in the society use these ornaments to welcome the youngest members at the end of their three months of retreat in the forest. A long dress completes the mask and is used to hide the entire body. This mask represents the spirit of fecundity and incarnates feminine waters. The characteristic features of these kinds of masks are always feminine, even when they incarnate a masculine spirit. We can always observe certain constants in the craftsmanship: half-closed elongated eyes, delicately designed lips, a very sophisticated hairstyle, a nose of great refinement and a serene forehead.
  • Mende is the name of an ethic group living in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau. They are approximately 700,000. Their oral tradition indicates that they came from Sudan, between the 2nd and the 16th centuries. The Mende settled in their present habitat at the end of the 18th century, straddling northwestern Liberia and southwestern Sierra Leone, they were opposed for long to the hegemony of the coastal kingdoms ruled by the current Baga and Landuman peoples. Located in a humid tropical area, the territory of the Mende, covered with secondary forests, grasslands and wooded savannahs, is crossed by many rivers. The family organization of the Mende, founded on patricians (clans structured by patrilineal filiation) and marriage based on widespread polygyny, is of virilocal residence (the spouses live with the husband’s family). The Mende village forms the basic political division. It is divided into neighborhoods, each one ruled by an elder. The villages gathered in varying numbers form a chieftaincy. In the past, big confederations of these chieftaincies were ruled by a sort of superior chief, assisted by a council.
  • Measurements:  41×25×26 cm
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Circa 1940's