Bundu mask of Sande Society


Q:  My father acquired this mask in the early 1940’s. He was in the Navy or working for Pan Am in Liberia. It was WWII. This helmet mask is made from wood 16 1/2 inches tall and the bottom opening is an oval 7 1/2 by 9 1/4 inches. My recollection is that he took it from a dwelling at some risk to himself. I believe it was worn in connection with a woman’s coming of age ceremony/ritual/retreat. My father died in 1995, and I offered to return the mask by contacting a Liberian embassy. They did not reply.  Joanne, 1793

A: You have one of the most collectible masks from all of Africa. It’ s design is unlike any other… and it is the only common mask worn only by women. You can find two other Bundus in our archives. They usually come from Sierra Leone or Liberia in West Africa. I believe the embassy may have turned down your kind offer because this mask, though traditional in design and very well carved, probably was made for the tourist trade. Only culturally authentic masks would be displayed in museums or federal buildings.  B

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy