Sande Society; Art of the Mende Peoples





Mende People

 Sande Society



color symbolism


body mutations


Poro Society



"Sande belongs to women and all women belong to it"~ Ruth B. Phillips

    All Mende women when they reach puberty begin the initiation process into the Sande society.  The goals of this secret society are to teach young women the responsibilities of adulthood. The girls are taught to be hard working and modest in their behavior, especially towards their elders.  Sande influences every aspect of a Mende woman's life; it is present before birth and still present after

Representing Woman Sande Masquerades of the Mende of Sierra Leone

two young students sitting between two Sande officials


death.  Sande is the guardian of women; their protector and guide through life.  It is Sande that grants a woman with an identity and a personality. (p15 (Boone)   Mende women love Sande, they celebrate it and treasure it, and pass it down through the generations.  The Sande society arouses the highest aspirations among its members.  It is concerned with defining what it is to be human and of discovering the ways of promoting love, justice, and harmony.  It is a moral philosophy that focuses on the perpetual refinement of the individual.  Sande leaders serve as models to women in the community.  They exemplify the highest of Mende ideals, and they have the duty of enforcing positive social relationships and of removing any harm that might come to women in their community.  "This is Sande; women together in their womanhood, in a free exchange of words and actions among sisters.  Where ever two or three women are gathered together, there is the spirit of Sande." (Boone)

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