The elaborate hairstyle, large forehead, ringed neck, narrow eyes, glossy black color, and symmetry of this helmet mask (Sowei) evoke an idealized version of Mende feminine beauty. It would be worn by senior members of the Sande society in their masquerades. Sande societies are all-women secret organizations that teach girls the communal wisdom on childcare, homemaking, beauty, arts, healing, and ethics. The mask’s aesthetics, revered by Mende women, reflect the significance of beauty, serenity, and harmony in Mende philosophy.
From the 2023 exhibition Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, curated by Alexandra Thomas, Curatorial Research Associate
ARTH 16, ANTH 50, Australian Aborigional Art, Howard Morphy, Fall 2012
SART 65, Architecture I, Zenovia Toloudi, Spring 2015
Anthropology of Religion, Harrington Gallery Teaching Exhibition, Anthropology 48, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 30-May 2, 2004.
Basis for Design: Visual Problem Solving, Harrington Gallery Teaching Exhibition, Studio Art 10, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 31-April 26, 1998.
Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body, Friends Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 1-August 10, 2008; Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, September 10-December 10, 2008; San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California, January 21-April 26, 2009.
Correspondences: African Sculpture at the Hood Museum of Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 12, 1996-March 2, 1997.
Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, Harteveldt Family Gallery, Owen Robertson Cheatham Gallery, and Northeast Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 22, 2023–May 25, 2024.
Works from the Continent of Africa, Ivan Albright Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-March 15, 2020.
Barbara Thompson, Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body, Seattle: University of Washington Press [Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College], 2008, p. 95, plate 1.
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