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African Art
Artist: Sogande family workshop, Mende, active late19th to mid-20th century

Female Ancestral Mask (Ndoli Jowi/Nòwo)

mid-20th century


14 1/8 × 9 × 10 in. (35.88 × 22.86 × 25.4 cm)
Gift of Loriann St. Jarre in loving memory of Lenny Kata
This style of mask is the only known type to be commissioned and danced by women in Africa. It is used by the powerful Sande association, into which all Mende women are initiated. Sande influences the lives of women and acts on their behalf within society, and helmet masks such as these were worn by leaders of the association during the initiation of girls into adulthood. They appear at educational sessions during initiation and at ceremonies of the final “coming out,” in which the initiate would be presented to her people.
Sierra Leone
On view
Mende, Sande association
20th century

Leonard Kata (uncle of the donor). Gift of Loriann St. Jarre, Berlin, Conn., to Yale University Art Gallery, 2013


“Acquisitions 2014,” http://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Pub_Bull_acquisitions_2014_02.pdf (accessed December 1, 2014).

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 such records is ongoing.