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Sowei mask: Spirit of Sierra Leone

Unique to the region around Sierra Leone, sowei masks are worn by senior members of the all-female Sande Society during rite-of-passage ceremonies that signify a girl's transition to adulthood. 

Each mask has an individual personality and is given a name which is revealed in a dream. For many years the name of this mask was lost. However, in a special ceremony in January 2013 members of the Sierra Leonean diaspora community in London gave the mask a new name: Gbavo, meaning ‘crowd-puller’ or ‘to attract people’s attention’. The newly-named mask was then formally re-presented to the British Museum. © Trustees of the British Museum

Created by British Museum.

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