Female Ancestral Mask (Ndoli Jowi/Nòwo) Artist: Sogande family workshop

early to mid-20th century

African Art

This mask represents an ideal ancestral woman, at the height of her youth and beauty. The rings around the neck are considered the essence of beauty. The delicacy and reserved expression of its face is mirrored in the demeanor of young girls as a result of their training during initiation. The initiates learn wisdom, beauty, grace, and self-control, which they will need while living in a multigenerational and polygamous household. The elaborate carvings surmounting the hairdo of the mask represents a bird with two mice and two horns lying along the haircrest. On the front and back of the mask, a pair of songba, or "talking" drums, replaces the usual protective amulets.


Wood and raffia


Mask: 15 1/2 × 9 × 9 1/2 in. (39.37 × 22.86 × 24.13 cm)
Mask with raffia, roughly: 33 × 10 × 13 in. (83.82 × 25.4 × 33.02 cm)

Credit Line

Bequest of William Siegmann

Accession Number



20th 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.



Acquired by donor January 1, 1986
Bequest of William Siegmann to Yale University Art Gallery, 2016

  • "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), 60, 128, 136, no. 2.

Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

ceremonial objects, masks (costume)



Technical metadata and APIs


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