Bundu or Sowei Helmet Mask (Ndoli Jowei), Mende, Nguabu Master (Moyamba district, Sierra Leone), late 19th-early 20th century, wood and pigment, 39.4 x 23.5 x 26 cm (Brooklyn Museum) Speakers: Dr. Peri Klemm and Dr. Steven Zucker
Sowei refers most specifically to medicine—the kind of medicine that female healers/herbalists utilize. Embodied in this idea of medicine is a spiritual force. The mask, when danced, is a visual expression of this spirit. The term also refers to the custodian of the medicine — a Sande official.