Gbeni/Gbini

Back to all glossary items

Mende name for the chief masker associated with the men's Poro society (q.v.). The masker wears a long cape of undyed raffia and raffia leggings. The headpiece is broad and cylindrical, flat on top, and is decorated with animal skin, cowrie shells and mirrors, with a small gap at the front allowing the masker to see out without being seen. From the collar of the headpiece a panel hangs down over the chest and midriff of the masker generally fronted with leopard skin and ornamented with cowrie shells. At the back a number of small wooden panels are suspended with sentences from the Qur'an written on them that knock together when the masker moves.

  • T.J.Alldridge, The Sherbro and its Hinterland (London 1901), Ch.13.
  • W.Siegmann & J.Perani, 'Men's masquerades of Sierra Leone and Liberia', Ethnologische Zeitschrift Z├╝rich, 1980, 1, 25-40. [Illustrations 1 and 2]