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Sapi Head

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Life-size heads such as this one have sometimes been called mahena yafe (spirit of the chief) by the Mende, who unearthed them in the course of farming, then preserved and venerated them. Evidence suggests that these, like smaller steatite figures, were fashioned by the Sapi people who inhabited...

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1991, acquired in Sierra Leone by Charles Davis, Davis Gallery, New Orleans; February 11, 1992, sold by Davis Gallery to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1996, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 18, 1996)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel

African, Sapi peoples, Sierra Leone, 16th century


25.4 cm (10 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique



Africa and Oceania