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Helmet mask

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Commissioned and worn by women, although carved by men, this mask was associated with the education and socialization of young Mende and Vai females, as supervised within the Sande society. Senior women wore these masks at the termination of initiation ceremonies in order to embody their patron...

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Bryce P. Holcombe (d. 1983), New York; probably acquired directly by Pace Primitive and Ancient Art, New York (stock no. 51-11883); April 5, 1989, sold by Pace Primitive to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1992, gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 23, 1992) NOTE: Director of Pace Primitive, New York, until his death. This mask was part of his private collection.

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel

African, Vai peoples, Sierra Leone, late 19th to early 20th century

Object Place

Sierra Leone


36.19 x 20.8 (width) x 27.3 (depth) cm (14 1/4 x 8 3/16 x 10 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood with black pigment and metal


Africa and Oceania