Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

sowei mask
  • Mende peoples
  • sowei mask, late 1800s–early 1900s
  • Where object was made: Sierra Leone or Liberia
  • wood, staining, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 42 x 22.5 x 23 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 16 1/2 x 8 7/8 x 9 1/16 in
  • Gift of Larry W. Welling
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2920
Label Text

The helmet mask depicts a face with a very large forehead, and small features and ears. There are large ridges around the mask from the level of the ears. There are smaller ridges at the level of the forehead and an eleaborate hairstyle with five ridges, the centermost being the tallest with a pyramidal element on top, with a post at each corner. The hairstyle continues on the back with two leaf-like shapes hanging down and five layers of stylized hair between.