Sande masked women, Liberia, 1900s

Sande masked women, Liberia, 1900s

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Credit: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division/NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY/ SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sande masked women. Leaders of a female secret society in Liberia in devil masks representing a supernatural entity called the 'sowo'. The carved helmet mask contains many symbolic elements, and the leaders' bodies are covered in material from raphia palms. Found in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast, and also known as 'bundu', this secret society initiates girls into adulthood through a series of traditional rituals. This photograph was published in 'Liberia' (volume 1, 1906) by British explorer Harry Hamilton Johnston (1858-1927).

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