Female Figure

Mende peoples
20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Sierra Leone


Overall: 65 x 17 x 14 cm (25 9/16 x 6 11/16 x 5 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



This graceful female figure, with its lush, blackened surfaces and elegant facial features-the small closed mouth, downcast eyes, and pronounced neckline-recalls the characteristics of Sande helmet masks. It personifies the refined Mende woman, standing erect with her hands placed on her legs. Such sculptures may have had important functions in the rituals of the Sande women’s societies. They also decorated the houses of influential men.


Mid-1970s, sold by Michel Huguenin of the Galerie Majestic, Paris, to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart