Ndoli Jowei

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[dancing sowei] Mende name for the masker who wears the black wooden helmet mask that is the public embodiment of the women's Sande society (q.v.). It is perhaps a unique case in Africa of a woman dancing wearing a female mask. The mask represents Mende conceptions of idealised womanhood and typically shows hair carefully dressed in one of the styles historically favoured by Mende women, a ringed neck (considered a mark of beauty), and fine facial features composed in a dignified expression The mask is worn with a costume of black raffia and black cloth that completely conceals the body of the wearer.

  • R.B.Phillips, Representing Woman (Los Angeles 1995)
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