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Parent Record
No. 4
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Publication: 1901. Alldridge, Thomas J. The Sherbro and Its Hinterland.

Original language: English


The Bundu Devil, Upper Mendi


"Her distinctive costume is unvarying, all Bundu devils being similarly attired, except as regards their head-piece, which admits some slight variation. No part of the body may be visible, consequently the cloth casings of the arms and legs are sewn up at the extremities, and in each covered hand the devil carries a little bunch of twigs with which she goes through a sort of dumb show - as she never does any talking. Her dress is of long shaggy fibre, dyed black, and over her head she wears a grotesque wooden mask. Occasionally she indulges in dance, but, owing to the great heat produced by dancing in so heavy a dress, a little goes a long way, and after a few moments she retires to some quiet part of town, where her attendant, who is always present with a large country mat, unrolls it and encircles the devil, who is then able to remove her mask and obtain a little fresh air away from the gaze of the madding crowd. I have had the honour of shaking the covered hand of a good many of these devils, whose fetish power is very great." (p. 141)

[RAAI editor's note: Description of society rituals continues for two more pages.]

Illustrator: Manuel Raymond Menendez (?), See 1/1/2011 comment.
Illustration technique: b/w field photograph

Publication page: facing 140

Publication plate/figure: plate (fig. 47)

Related images: Nearly identical image appears in four publications between 1899 & 1901: see #s 4, 937.1, 1003.2, 1161 For other masks of same type, search: Sande mask

• Sierra Leone (Country, region, place)
• fiber (Materials and techniques)
• pigment (Materials and techniques)
• raffia (Materials and techniques)
• wood (Materials and techniques)
• headdress (Notable features)
• coiffure (Notable features)
• costume (Notable features)
• masker (Notable features)
• Sande society (Notable features)
• mask (Object name, type)
• sowei (Object name, type)
• Mende (Style, culture group)

Susan Kart, (12/1/2005): CP: cf. F. Lamp in African Arts, 1985, vol 18, No. 3.

Jim Ross, (7/1/2011):

A close-up version of this image appears on the Yale van Rijn website, 0119991~01.

Jim Ross, (7/31/2011):

This photograph appears on the website of the British Museum (reg. no. Af,A49.41) which indicates that the photographer may be Sir Manuel Raymond Menendez, Chief Justice of Nigeria who was active ca. 1908. This date isn't helpful in dating the photograph given that the same image in 1899 (i.e. #937.1). The image also appears on p34 in Burkhard Gottschalk's Afrika. L'Art du Continent Noir. Bundu. Masques et statues des collections privées which references Alldridge and this publication and says that "Cette photo peut cependant avoir été prise en 1895 lors de son dernier voyage dans l'arrière-pays." In speaking of this photo and another 1895 photo of a masked dancer which he sets forth in his book, Gottschalk says: "Ces deux prises de vue semblent être les premièrs d'un masque."

Jim Ross, (11/1/2012):

 This image appears facing the inside title page of Bundu. Sowei Headpieces of the Sande Society of West Africa. The Imperato Family Collection by Gavin H. Imperato and Pascal James Imperato (2012) with the following caption: "One of the earliest known photographs of a Sande Society masked performer (ndolo jowei), Sierra Leone, late nineteenth century (Thomas J. Alldridge, The Shebro abd Its Hinterland, 1901, opposite page 140)."

Jim Ross, (11/1/2012):

 For information on George Thompson in a section entitled "Nineteenth Century Christian Missionary Encounters," see  Bundu.Sowei Headpieces of the Sande Society of West Africa. The Imperato Family Collection by Gavin H. Imperato and Pascal James Imperato" (2012) 25-26.

Jim Ross, (1/18/2015):

 A darker, slightly cropped at the top image appears in the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History publication Representing Woman. Sande Masquerades of the Mende of Sierra Leone by Ruth B. Phillips (1995) 117, fig. 6.4 with the following caption: "A mask photographed by Alldridge  among the 'Upper Mendi' at the end of the 19th century displays the old-fashioned ridged hairstyle, here ornamented with strips of beaten silver. From Alldridge 1910."

Jim Ross, (1/19/2015):

 This image appears in the Studienreihe »afrika incognita« series entitled Bundu. Buschteufel im Land der Mende by Burkhard Gottschalk (1990) 21 with the following caption: "....Zu diesem Foto schreibt Ardyn Boone: 'Anscheinend das erste Bilddokument, das uns von einer SANDE-Bund Maske der Mende vorliegt. Besonders wichtig für die kunsthistorische Forschung ist die Tatsache, daß die Maske in vollem Kostüm zu sehen ist. Ein zweites Foto (Abbildung auf Seite 16) zeigt eine andere Maskengestalt mit der zum Bund gehörigen Begleitung. Diese beiden Fotos stellen den Beginn der Bild-Geschichte dieser Maskenform dar' (1986: 13). Das erste Bilddokument ist jedoch die Zeichnung einer Maske, die Büttikofer im ersten Band seiner 'Reisebilder aus Liberia' veröffentlichte (siehe Zeichnung auf Seite 186, Abbildungen auf den Seiten 188 und 189, und Text auf Seite 186). Das Foto von Hans Ryff (1895) auf der folgenden Seite, das hier zum ersten Mal veröffentlicht wird, was Ardyn Boone offensichtlich unbekaant."

Jim Ross, (6/14/2015):
A sharper version of this image appears in Schön/Hässlich - Gegensätze Afrikanische Kunst Aus der Sammlung Des Völkerkundemuseums Der Universität Zürich by Miklos Szalay (2001) 94, Abb. 28 with additional information following the illustration.

Jim Ross, (7/26/2015): This image with slightly different margins appears in Art from Africa. Long Steps Never Broke a Back by Pamela McClusky (2002) 199, fig. 64 with the following caption: " 'The Bundu Devil, Upper Mendi' from T.J. Alldridge, The Sherbro and its Hinterland (1901)."  On p198ff we read an interesting text on Alldridge which begins as follows: "'The Bundu [Sande] Devill, Upper Mendi' is the first photograph of a Sande society masquerader to appear in an English publication (fig. 64)."