Art and Aesthetics

How do people in the society express their individual and group values in sculpture, painting, weaving, pottery, music and other art forms? Are they practical and useful, decorative and beautiful or expressive and models of deep societal values: What symbolic meanings do their art forms have concerning the particular group?

The Bondu Helmet Masks of the Sande Society

photo of Bondu helmet maskThis image is of a Bondu helmet mask associated with the Sande Society of the Mende peoples of West Africa. The Sande society is the female educational society of the Mende and is open to all women in the community. Some of their activities are hidden from uninitiated girls and from men. These Bondu masks are found throughout Sierra Leone and western Liberia and are used during women's initiation ceremonies. While traditions of male ceremonial masking are found in many parts of Africa, these Bondu masks are particularly interesting because they are the only ones used by women. These Bondu helmet masks are widely admired as some of the finest works of art of West Africa.

Copyright © The Clio Project 2005

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Photo Credit:
Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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