Introduction to Sande Masks

Sande Society Mask Bombax wood, vegetable fiber 16 X 8 X 9 inches Vai People, Sierra Leone/Liberia

Sande and Poro societies are found throughout Sierra Leone and Liberia, in parts of Guinea, and as far east as the borders of the Ivory Coast in West Africa. Many different cultural groups, such as the Gola, Temne, Mende, Vai, Kpelle, De, and Bassa, belong to these associations. Sande and Poro societies play a major social role in the local community life of many villages. They teach young men and women the domestic skills and knowledge they will need as married adults. Poro is the secret society for men, responsible for initiating boys into manhood, while its counterpart, Sande, initiates girls into womanhood. They are “secret” in the sense that members of each society have certain knowledge that can only be shared with other initiates.[1]

The Sande Society is a fellowship of women found in West African cultures, which aims at preparing girls for adulthood. It is the only known society that allows women to wear and perform in masquerades. The mask represents the ideals of feminine beauty that the Sande Society stands for and is worn along with a costume robe and danced in Sande Initiation Rituals.[2]




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