Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0

Sowei mask from the Sande society 3.0

As a representation of the guardian spirit of Sande -- a powerful pan-ethnic women's association responsible for education and moral development -- the work alludes to an idealized female beauty. Worn at performances to celebrate the completion of the young initiates' training period, these masks are finely carved to convey admired feminine features: an elaborate coiffure, a smooth broad forehead, narrowly slit eyes, a small composed mouth, and a sensuously ringed neck (Metropolitan Museum).

Provenance:
- Private New York collection, acquired in 1970s
- Robert Taylor, Jurgens Gallery, NYC
- Arte Primitivo, Howard S. Rose Gallery, New York, USA

Literature:
- d’Azevedo, W. L., 1973, Mask, Makers and Myth in Western Liberia, Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Boone, S. A., 1986, Radiance from the Waters: Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art. New Haven and London: Yale University Press
- Phillips, R. B., 1995, Representing Woman: Sande Masquerades of the Mende of Sierra Leone. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History

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