Bondo Society Mask (Nòwo)

late 19th century

African Art

This women’s mask appeared in a photograph first published in 1901 and taken by Cecil H. Firmin, who was working in southern Sierra Leone with the Government Railway. In this photograph, we can see the details of the mask: the number of neck rings and their position, the flange on the bottom, the indented flat face, the number of hair crests, the number of hairline ridges above the forehead, the triple scarification marks on each cheek, and the position and proportions of all the facial features. Since the time of the photo, the mask has been ornamented with a tiny, silver British coin on each side of the coiffure, and it shows decades of wear.


Wood, metal, fiber, and coins


15 3/16 × 8 11/16 × 9 1/4 in. (38.5 × 22 × 23.5 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Charles D. Miller III, B.A. 1974

Accession Number



19th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



This mask appeared in a photograph that was first published in 1901, taken by a Mr. Cecil H. Firmin, who was working in southern Sierra Leone with the Government Railway.
Gift of Charles D. Miller III to Yale University Art Gallery in 2008
  • Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers and Alexander Bortolot, eds., Visions from the Forests: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014), 72–74, fig. 9, 4.12
  • "Acquisitions 2009," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2009), 122–23, ill
  • "Yale University Art Gallery advertisement," Yale Alumni Magazine (2009), 65, ill
  • Walter Hutchinson and T.J. Alldridge, Customs of the World: A Popular Account of the Manners, Rites and Ceremonies of Men and Women in all Countries, II (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1913), 771
  • Harry Hamilton Johnston, Liberia, 2 vols. (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1906), pl. 410
  • Harry Hamilton Johnston and A.H. Keane, The Living Races of Mankind. A popular illustrated account of the customs, habits, pursuits, feasts and ceremonies of the races of mankind throughout the world, II (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1901-1903), 488
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

ceremonial masks, ceremonial objects, masks (costume)



Technical metadata and APIs


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