Helmet Mask (Bondo)
Helmet Mask (Bondo)
early 19th Century
West Africa, Liberia
16 3/8 x 7 15/16 x 10 in. (41.6 x 20.2 x 25.4 cm)
The Sowei mask is used by the women's fellowship called Sande, in Sierra Leone and Bondo in Liberia. Sowo is one of the few African mask types performed by women. Worn by the highest members of Sande/Bondo, the masks are paraded as part of a young girl's initiation when she is instructed in responsible womanhood. The mask is the idealized Sande/Bondo woman realized: the forehead is broad, indicating a poised woman ready to face any challenge. The facial features are small, with a closed mouth and downcast eyes to denote modesty and respect. The ringed necklines are a sign of health and fecundity. Neat, ridged, and lobed coiffures embellished with intricate patterns of hair braiding are a mark of discipline, order, and beauty. Though the mask represents feminine beauty, during the coming-of-age ceremony Sande/Bondo initiates are referred to as the brides of a male water spirit who is spiritually present in the mask, hence the mask's dark, shiny (wet) color. The incised X marks on the cheeks refer to the Poro society, the male counterpart to Sande.
Ex coll. William S. Arnett
Divine Intervention: African Art and Religion, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - December 4, 2011
© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White 2010.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or email@example.com. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.
“Helmet Mask (Bondo),” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed September 20, 2018, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7415.
Copy the code below into your web page