AAMM Short Talks (Short T’s)

Welcome to AAMM’s new feature called AAMM Short Talks, or affectionately known as AAMM Short T’s.  They are called ‘AAMM Short T’s’ because there will be audio of a story about each featured piece which will be 5 minutes or less!  Each month we will feature three different pieces of African artifacts.  These stories are narrated by the museum co-founder, Mrs. Doris Ligon.   We will also include a text file in case you prefer to read the text.

Drop us a line sometimes and let us know what you thinkDid you miss our previous Short T’s?  Don’t worry Check out the Short T’s Archive!

     Name:  Bundu Society Mask

    Country:  Liberia / Sierra Leone

     Donors:  Ben & Shirley Vonderheide

Read the transcribed text for "Bundu Society Mask" audio.

When anybody talks about the traditional arts of Africa, that they’ve been to Africa and they picked up a mask, it’s normally not one of the kind that you’re looking at now. Because that is a mask that is out of the ordinary in a lot of respects. For the most part, men wear masks. There’s only one mask that I know anything about and I’m not an expert at this. But I’ve been studying African art for a long time but that doesn’t mean that they’re not some masks that I’ve missed. Is that Bundu society mask, is that mask that comes from the area of Sierra Leone, and Liberia? That I have found, is the only kind of mask that women wear. Now it’s made of wood, it looks massive and looks heavy, but it’s made of relatively lightweight wood. It sits right on top of your head and it normally depicts something, an idea of strength or longevity on it. It’s placed right on the top of your head.

At the base of that part that sits on top of your head, are holes from which you will tie materials, so that you will not be able to see the person who’s wearing the mask. So it’s not a mask that’s going to cover your face but what you will apply to it will somewhat obscure your face. Because again, the same as when the men wear the mask, you’re not supposed to know who is wearing the mask. That is her badge of honor, that gives her the power. Now, when she’s wearing the mask it is going to be at initiation periods when young girls are coming into their own or they are at a time when the older members of that society want to teach the young lady how to be a good citizen, then the mask is worn. That mask is not worn on a day time basis or date event basis where you just decided to put on a mask and you go walking around. It’s for a special occasion. And most of those special occasions are talking about the initiation or you’re coming of age. So it’s a mask that is going to sit on top of your head.

Sometimes it’s called a helmet mask. At the base of that helmet mask you’re going to tie things because there are little holes there that will somewhat obscure your face, because of the importance of your not caring who is wearing the mask. But knowing that the woman who has that mask at the top of her head is somebody very special and somebody who has the power to wear that mask.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai