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African Art
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Female Ancestral Mask (Ndoli Jowi/Nòwo)

early to mid-20th century

Wood

16 × 18 × 9 in. (40.64 × 45.72 × 22.86 cm)
Bequest of William Siegmann
2016.119.1
This style of mask depicts an ideal ancestral woman at the height of her youth and allure. The rings around the neck are considered the essence of beauty, while the reserved expression of the face reflects the wisdom, grace, and self-control gained during initiation into the Sande association. The four small antelope horns on the sides of the mask symbolize protective medicine, while the clusters of cowrie shells in the hair represent wealth. Scarification marks in the form of tears (ngaya maki) are visible on the cheeks and further enhance the face.
Geography: 
Bo District, Sewa River, Sierra Leone
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
Mende, Sande association
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Masks
Provenance: 

William Siegmann acquired October 17, 1966; Bequest of William Siegmann, New York, N.Y., to Yale University Art Gallery, 2016

Bibliography: 

“Acquisitions July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017,” https://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/bulletin/Pub-Bull-acquisitions-2017.pdf (accessed December 1, 2017).

Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers and Alexander Bortolot, eds., Visions from the Forests: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014), 64–65, 136–137, no. 3.

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.