Sande Society Helmet Mask, Bondo

Sherbro-Mende, Sierra Leone. 20th century. Wood 2010.030.001. Gift of Sue Trotter.

This delicately rendered mask was recently gifted to the Museum by Atlanta based African art collector, Sue Trotter who has acquired a carefully chosen group of art works, primarily from West Africa. Sue began collecting and studying African art through a personal friend--African art scholar, Phillip Ravenhill--with whom she also traveled to Africa, gaining firsthand knowledge of the continent. This mask is called Bondo and was commissioned and worn by a female member of a Sherbro-Mende woman's Sande society in Sierra Leone. The Sande society is responsible for the instruction of young girls into adulthood. This process occurs in the forest under the guidance of senior Sande members and Bondo nature spirits. Once taught basic female values and trained for marriage, domestic life, and religious, economic, and political persuits, the girls are integrated back into the village as women. On this occasion they are accompanied by masqueraders wearing masks such as this one.