Helmet Mask Sierra Leone

Sande society helmet mask
Sande society helmet mask

Custodian: University of Glasgow Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery

Reference: GLAHM E.1915/1

This carved wooden helmet mask originated in the Sande society, a women's association of the West African Mende people which initiates girls into adulthood. Such masks are worn at initiation ceremonies celebrating a successful transition into womenhood.

The mask has anthropomorphic faces carved on opposing sides. These have a high forehead, straight nose, protruding eyelids with three-dimensional pupils underneath, half-moon shaped eyebrows, a v-shaped mouth, and elaborately carved hair simulating braiding. Both wear a spiked fin-like head dress. These features have specific symbolic meanings.

Maker: not known

Materials: wood

Dimensions: 410 x 230mm (diameter at base)