Photographs © Tim Hamill
MENDE, BUNDU HELMET MASK with Raffia Collar #23, 34", $700, SOLD
Bundu (or Sande), a women's association, is almost unique in Africa in that it controls the use of these masks, which embody Sowo, their guardian spirit. The masks usually include an elaborate hairstyle and attempt to represent serene feminine beauty, with high foreheads, small, compressed facial features, and voluminous neck-rings, depicting the desirable full-figured woman. Originally all had a dark raffia collar and were worn with a full, dark costume of raffia on cloth. Those, like this one, with the raffia include a black metal stand.
Some literature refers to this particular form of mask as
being from a male association. It was worn by a male dancer, but thought
to represent a female spirit.
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