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Mende Bundu/Sowei mask (N° 18647)

In African art, African masks sowei form an idealized representation of female beauty through Mende culture. They embody aquatic spirits. This cephalomorphic mask forms a copy of the type of masks named bundu the most important in the Mendes. The face has a high bulging forehead forming the upper half, while the narrow features are concentrated in the lower part. The face seems to be engulfed in a neck where the folds appear an abundance of flesh, a symbol of prosperity. From the top, between the fins of the hairstyle, springs a cephalomorphic figure worn by an equally ringed neck.
Peint in black or tinted with a brush of leaves, the mask was then rubbed with palm oil. Velvet matte patina, Ochre residual inlays, erosions, slight desication cracks.br>The Mende, Vaï and Gola cultures of Sierra Leone, Liberia and the west coast of Guinea are known in African art for masks and especially those of the women's initiation society Sandé which prepares girls for marriage. The male society is Poro. Relatively rare in sub-Saharan Africa, these masks are made by men and worn by women.
To close the rituals, a spirit appears, wearing this mask with long raffia fibers, and waving a whip in order to drive out malevolent spirits and sorcerers.

African art Kerchache and African masks from the Barbier-Mueller collection Adam Biro)  

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OriginCollection Prodhomme
EthnyMende
CountryLibéria
Material(s)wood
Height cm48
Width20 cm
Weight1.45 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle inclusOptional

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