Sande Helmet Mask

Bass peoples, Liberia

Wood

Gift of Tom and Heather Conyers for Allison and Christopher Conyers

19.25 x 17 x 12 in

Sande is a women’s association found in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia that is devoted to the instruction and initiation of young women into adulthood. It is one of the few contexts in Africa where women are the patrons, owners and performers of masks. Masks are danced during several episodes of the coming-out ceremony of young women following a period of seclusion during which they “die into Sande”, meaning that they leave their old selves behind to be reborn as fully initiated women. The elaborate hairstyle and neckrings connote beauty, health and links with the spirit world.

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