Mende Bundu Mask
19 November 2022
Description

This mask is a Bundu mask from the female Sande society in Sierra Leone. The neck, ears and facial features are all unmistakable features of a Mende Bundu mask. However, this mask is more complex than most. The four mirrors (one missing) on the headdress are intended to deflect and return to the sender any evil spirits. Above the face, a second much smaller coiffed head can be seen. Three female figures, each having very long necks with prominent rings of fat, emerge from the mask’s hair. Two of these figures have small female heads at their base.Sande activities are conducted by the female elders. Some of what goes on during Sande initiation could be described as practical advice and hands-on education, but some is more ceremonial in nature. An important part of the Sande rituals are the dramatic dances and presentations by masked figures. While the wooden head masks are the most striking part of the costume, the performer’s entire body is concealed beneath a black raffia covering. The Sande/Bundu ceremonies are unique because the masks are worn and performed by women. Elsewhere in Africa, even female masked characters are played by men. In addition to being used during the secret initiation rituals, the Bundu mask appears in important public events such as the installation or funeral of a chief or the visit of an important dignitary. The typical Bundu mask is designed to represent important female qualities. Shining black color: healthy and beautiful skin High forehead: wisdom and intelligence Downcast eyes: modesty, a reminder for women to be reserved Small mouth and ears: a reminder that women should not talk too much, gossip, or listen to gossip Four scar lines under the eyes: marks of female beauty Thick rings of fat around the neck: wealth and bountiful meals. The rings also symbolize ripples in the water from where powerful spirits emerge. Intricately coiffed hair: care for personal appearance

Dimensions

H 15” x W 10” x D 10"

Provenance

I purchased this mask in 1987 from a travelling Mandingo merchant in Bong County in central Liberia.

Acquired from
Other
For sale
Maybe
Answered within 3 days
By David U.
Nov 22, 13:05 UTC
Fair Market Value
$500 - $1,500 USD
Insurance Value $0 USD
What does this mean?

Dear John,

Based on these images, it appears to be:

A Bundu Helmet Mask from Sande society, mid 20th Century. This remarkable mask is very rare due to its construction as well as meaning.

Fair condition, signals of age and parts missing.

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