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ID number:  BIRRC-D0260
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts
Artist / Maker:  Unknown
Title / Object name:  Helmet mask
Object type:  Mask
Place made:  Sierra Leone
Culture:  Mende
Collector:  Danford, John
Materials:  Wood

This helmet mask ('Zogbe') is carved with a banded collar and hair arrangement, topped by a small cooking pot (fairly modern). These masks are worn during religious and ritual ceremonies undertaken by Sande society in Sierra Leone. This society is the female adult initiation Society of the Mende people, with its male counterpart being 'Poro'. The masks are carved to particular specifications with each elaborate aspect representing a Sande members aspiration to pure physical and spiritual beauty. This mask was collected between 1967 and 1968 by John Danford.

John Danford spent the majority of his professional life working for the British Council in West Africa. He spent 11 years as the representative in Ibadan, Nigeria, his arts education providing him with the insight to encourage and develop the arts in Nigeria. For his achievements in this area he was awarded an OBE in 1953. He occupied three further posts in Trinidad, Manchester and Sierra Leone before illness forced him into retirement. In 1964 a large portion of his West African arts collection was loaned to the University of Birmingham before being purchased in 1975, forming the nucleus of the Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts.

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Danford, John


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