This is a very unusual style of Mende Soweii mask featuring two faces on opposite sides (janus). The mask has a rough distressed exterior and many hand carved designs throughout. The mask stands 10 inches tall and weighs 4.5 lbs. There is cracking and wear and tear throughout – please inspect photos.
Mende Soweii Style Janus African Helmet Mask 10″ – Sierra Leone
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Cracks, scuffs and scrapes throughout.
About the Mende People
“The Mende Settled in Sierra Leone in the 16th century, having migrated from the north. Today, the 2,000,000 Mende live mostly from the rice and cocoa farming and are organized into different chiefdoms. Social order and structure are regulated through the Poro male and Sande female societies. During ceremonies associated with the latter, women wear Bundu masks which embody idealized female beauty and represent an ancestor of the society.
Other Mende societies are responsible for the protecting of their members from illness or curing them. Female figures are carved and revered for their healing properties and also serve as emblems for the society when they are formally displayed during processions. Stylistically, they can be resting on their abdomen and their typical head with an exaggerated coiffure.”
Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.