SPECIAL ADVISORY: The Yale University Art Gallery opens to the public with free, timed-entry tickets to special exhibitions beginning September 25, 2020. Learn More

African Art
PrevNext1 of 6
Full-size image not available for download. Please contact Rights and Reproductions.
PrevNext2 of 6
Full-size image not available for download. Please contact Rights and Reproductions.
PrevNext3 of 6
Full-size image not available for download. Please contact Rights and Reproductions.
PrevNext4 of 6
Full-size image not available for download. Please contact Rights and Reproductions.
PrevNext5 of 6
Full-size image not available for download. Please contact Rights and Reproductions.
PrevNext6 of 6
Full-size image not available for download. Please contact Rights and Reproductions.
Artist: Sogande family workshop

Female Ancestral Mask (Ndoli Jowi/Nòwo)

early to mid-20th century

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)
Bequest of William Siegmann
2016.119.4
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.
Geography: 
Country Sierra Leone
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
Mende, Sande association
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Masks
Provenance: 

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

Bibliography: 

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.

“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).

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.