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Tribal art > African mask > Mendé Mask

Mende Bundu Sowei Mask (N° 14804)

The sowei form an idealized representation of female beauty seen through the Mende culture.They also embody aquatic spirits. This very old African mende mask is a copy of the type of masks named bundu the most important among the Mendé. It has a high bulging forehead occupying the upper half of a losangic face in which the features are concentrated in the lower area. The rings of the neck evoke an abundance of flesh that symbolizes prosperity. The bun headdress consists of fine braids picked up in side shells. The orifices bordering the contours were gnawed by the weight of the adornment over the different performances of the dancer. Painted black or tinted with a leaf brush, the mask was then rubbed with palm oil. Mate patina with a velvety touch. Localized abrasions, slight cracks, visible signs of use. The Mende, Vaï and Gola cultures, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the west coast of Guinea, are known in African art for the hexagonal masks and especially those of the women's initiation society Sandé which prepares young girls for marriage. The male society is the Poro company. Relatively rare in sub-Saharan Africa, these masks are made by men and worn by women.
To close the rituals, a "esprit" appears, wearing this mask lined with long raffia fibers, and waving a whip in order to drive out malevolent spirits and sorcerers.

("L 'African artU'0022 Kerchache and "African masks from the Barbier-Mueller" coll. Adam Biro collection)

Issu from the Guy Mercier collection, consultant for the Solvay Group, and passed down from generation to generation. At the beginning of the 20th century, Guy Mercier began to collect a vast collection of African tribal art. While radiating in West and Central Africa as part of his work, and collecting in-situ works, the majority of his collection nevertheless comes from \  

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OriginEx. coll. belge Mercier
EthnyMende
CountryGuinée
Material(s)wood
Height40
Width25
Weight2.14 Kg
Estimated dating1e halfxxe
Socle includedYes

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