Sande is a society (a kind of organization) found among several cultures
who live in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia - the Mende,
Gola, Temme, and Kpelle. In Sande societies women are educated in farming,
medicine, and child-rearing. Sande is similar to female initiation in
other regions of Africa, yet it is unique because it is the only society
where women completely cover their bodies in a black costume and wear
a mask in performance. Usually wooden masks in Africa are only allowed
to be worn by men.
The Sande mask is called Sowei and is worn and danced in the
village by an older woman while the young female initiates are in seclusion
outside the village in the forest.