Amazing helmet mask from the Mende people. Worn by Mende woman of sub saharan Africa during ritual initiation ceremonies for young girls, these masks are said to posses the wearer with magical abilities. The glossy surface of the mask is meant to represent health and youth and is achieved by polishing the mask with leaves. Carved from a single piece of wood, in generally good condition apart from a couple of small chips that you can see in the photographs. It appears to have some age to it and I believe it dates from around the first half of the last century.