The sowei mask is worn by senior Sande officials of the women’s initiation society. The carving with its elaborate hairstyle, reflects the ideals of feminine beauty.

Object Summary

Museum Number 37/2000
Simple Name mask
Full Name dance mask, sowei
Common Name mask
Production country Sierra Leone
Material wood (gbolei, Ricinodendron africanum)
Collection class Religion and magic
Collection continent Africa
Collection area/region W
Production town Mende
Production continent Africa
Cultural group Mende
Function name religion
Function detail worn by a masked dancer for important social ceremonial dances