240210 - Large African Mende Sowei Sande Society Mask - Sierra Leone.


Large African Mende Sowei Sande Society Mask from Sierra Leone.
Height; 48 cm.

This Mende mask dates from the mid of the 20th century and was purchased in my private collection in 2021, with a certificate of authenticity.

The Mende culture is known in African art for its beautiful initiation masks and more specifically those of the Sande initiation society.
These masks are relatively rare in Africa and are made by men and worn by women.
Beautiful polychromy.
Mende is the name of an ethnic group living in Liberia, Serra Leone and Guinea-Bissau. They number approximately 700,000 and their oral tradition indicates that they came from Sudan between the 2nd and 16th centuries. The Mende people settled in their current habitat, spread across northwestern Liberia and southwestern Sierra Leone, at the end of the 18th century, after long resisting the hegemony of the kingdom's coastal areas ruled by the present peoples of Baga and Landuman. Located in a humid tropical zone, the territory of the Mende, covered with secondary forests, pastures and wooded savannas, is crossed by many rivers. The family organization of the Mende is based on patriclans (clans structured by patrilineal descent) and marriage, which is based on a very wide polygyny, is of virilocal residence (the spouses live with the husband's family).