Mende / Gola Tribe, Sande Society, Sierra Leone, Mid 20th Century Helmet Mask. #AM528 - For Sale

Mende / Gola Tribe, Sande Society, Sierra Leone, Mid 20th Century Helmet Mask. #AM528
Price: $1250.00
Composition: wood, stain, oils, about 22” tall x 10” wide.
A beautifully designed and hand carved from one “log” of wood, mid 20th century Mende / Gbetu helmet mask. This mask is particularly beautiful and unusual. It embodies the ideals and lessons transmitted to the Mende / Gola peoples from the world beyond through the dance and accompanying rituals, the tribe calls upon the power of the spirits for progress, fertility of the fields and the tribe, and brings ideals of female beauty into the context of the natural world. The mask has a demure yet beautiful, subtle expression that conveys these elements; the intention of the dance is clearly illustrated in the lines, details, and power of the sculpture. “Most Mende / Gola art is associated with initiation and healing….This type of mask is the only type of African mask reserved exclusively for women. It is used by female members of the Mende / Gola peoples during ceremonies as young girls are initiated into a women's secret society called Sande, an organization that is responsible for the education and socialization of young Mende / Gola girls. In the course of the initiation process, they learn an entire body of knowledge: rules of moral conduct, legends, dance steps, songs, and secret recipes for medicines. When the girls reach the proper age (puberty), they are separated from their families and their community and taken in groups to isolated initiation camps. The length of the initiation time varies: for some groups it is several weeks, while for others it may be several months. This is an extremely important time for these girls because it is a transition between childhood and adulthood, between ignorance and knowledge, between play and responsibility. The elders stress concepts of moral stature and personal beauty. The girls acquire the knowledge they will need to perform as mature women, as mothers, and as citizens in their community. For instance, only women possess certain skills, such as the gathering and preparation of herbs and medicine from the wilderness. The girls are also prepared for marriage, which usually occurs soon after they have "graduated" from the camp and return to their community. During a ceremony, the newly initiated girls are led back to their community and reintroduced by a dancer who wears this mask and is covered from head to foot by a black costume. The dancer is accompanied by an attendant who "announces" the arrival of the Sande mask by name, and informs the gathering of the characteristics of the spirit. When not being used ceremonially, Sande masks are used to decorate the living spaces of revered members of the society. Each mask also has a personal name that represents the power of the female spirit it represents. The Sande mask depicts the feminine ideal of beauty among the Mende / Gola, including an elaborate carved hairstyle, thick rings of neck fat to indicate health and prosperity, and a high, domed forehead. The surface of the mask is originally a glossy black, (now somewhat dulled aged and worn), the color of the mud on a river bottom. Black is also the color of clean, oiled, healthy, and beautiful human skin, and the women are praised for their glossy complexions. The "wet" appearance alludes to water and its function as a barrier between the physical and spirit worlds.
Price is firm.
Thanks for looking!

Regional & Ethnic Antiques
email   facebook   twitter
Seller Details :
R&V Music and Art
Contact Details :
Email :
Phone : none

Go To Vendor Page
« Back
Related Items: