Color Symbolism




Mende People

Sande Society



color symbolism


body mutations


Poro Society



    Hojo is a white clay that Sande women use to mark their territory.  The clay comes from the water like many other aspects of Sande.  Its smooth, shinny, surface reflects light making it eye catching and beautiful.  Hojo is found in a scale of colors from beige to pure white.  The pure white Hojo is more rare, found only deep beneath the surface.  Hojo and Sande are parallel in that they are both well hidden and secretive in its purest form.
    White is the color of Sande.  The pureness of white signifies the cleanliness and absence of imperfections.  "It shows a 'harmlessness'; it is void of all things satanic and is thus 'a positive and helpful color.'" (Boone p 21)  White is symbolic of the spirit world and also of the secret parts of society where people aim for the highest standards.
    Objects and people that are marked with Hojo are under Sande protection and control and are subject to authority of  Sande law and punishment.  Initiates are colored with this white clay to show that they are property of Sande.  This signifies that they are under the protection of Sande and should not be fooled with.  Sowei; the judge of women wears white to represent clear thinking and justice. 

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Radiance From the Waters Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art, page 64
a young initiate painted with Hojo