This fine Mende ‘Sowei’ mask was worn exclusively by women. The mask represents an ideal of feminine beauty admired by the Mende: elaborate hairstyles, full forehead, small facial features and fleshy neck rolls. The gleaming wooden surface signifies healthy, glowing skin.
This mask features serene, downcast eyes, a finely pointed chin, and an impressive incised cross-hatched coiffure. An unusual feature of this mask is the detail of the coiffure and the inclusion of relief markings on the forehead.
Ex Private Collection, Europe
Estimated Period: First Half of 20th Century (Pre-1950s’s)
Phillips, T. (1999) Africa: The Art of a Continent, p. 473