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Parent Record
No. 21
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Publication: 1915. Beatty, K.J. and Preface by Sir William Brandford Griffith. Human Leopards. An Account of the Trials of Human Leopards Before the Special Commission Court; With a Note on Sierra Leone, Past and Present.

Original language: English


Bundu Devils, Sierra Leone


“The Bundu Society, a women’s society which corresponds with the Poro for men, plays a very important part in native life among the Mendes and Temnes. Bundu girls have to undergo during their novitiate period an operation somewhat similar to that performed on the Poro boys, and their backs and loins are cut in such a manner as to leave raised scars which project above the surface of the skin. They also receive their Bundu names by which they are afterwards known. Their release from the Bundu bush is carried out with great ceremony, and they are usually accompanied by persons wearing hideous masks who personate Bundu devils. A procession is formed, which marches thruogh the town or village accompanied by musicians, who play on a collection of instruments consisting of drums, rattles and timbrels. A halt is made in the centre of the town and the girls are publicly pronounced marriageable.” (p. 111)

Illustrator: Alphonso Sylvester Lisk-Carew, Creole photographer born in Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1887 (as per "Bundu publication" mentioned in 11/2/12 comment.
Illustration technique: b/w field photograph (albumen print)

Publication page: facing 21

Publication plate/figure: plate

Related images: Published in 1915 & 1919: cf. #s 21, 919.3

• Sierra Leone (Country, region, place)
• fiber (Materials and techniques)
• raffia (Materials and techniques)
• wood (Materials and techniques)
• drums (Notable features)
• mats (Notable features)
• segburas (Notable features)
• staffs (Notable features)
• costumes (Notable features)
• villagers (Notable features)
• helmet masks (Object name, type)
• ndoli jowei (Object name, type)
• Sande sowei (Object name, type)
• Vai (Style, culture group)

Fred Lamp, (5/18/2006): This photograph is from the James Carmichael Smith collection in the Royal Commonwealth Society, London, where it is identified as Vai. The photographer may be Alphonso Lisk-Carew, a Krio professional photographer living in Freetown. This would suggest that the photograph was taken in southern Sierra Leone near the Liberia border.

Henrietta Cosentino, (7/13/2006): See also comments in #919.3

Jim Ross, (12/18/2008):

This image in hand colored form appears in an undated postcard in the collection of Holly Ross (no. pc650) with the following caption and additional information on the front of the card: "Bondoo Devil Sierra Leone Lisk-Carew Brothers Photo. Freetown, Sierra Leone." The collection also has a black & white version (no. pc580) with the same text except that "Bondoo" is spelled "Bundoo." Another undated postcard (no. pc578) has a similar scene with another Bundu mask but some of the native people are possibly the same as in the other images. It has the following caption: "Bundu Devil And Attendants, Sierra Leone" It also has a printed reference to "Greensmith Photo."

Jim Ross, (6/30/2011):

A clearer version of this image as well as additional comments by postcard collector Holly Ross appear on the Yale van Rijn website,  0055377~01.7~01

Jim Ross, (11/3/2012):

This image appears in Bundu. Sowei Headpieces of the Sande Society of West Africa. The Imperato Family Collection by Gavin H. Imperato and Pascal James Imperato (2012) 54, fig 19 (1) with the following caption by the photographer Alphonso Sylvester Lisk-Carew: "Natives dressed for the Dance of the Bundoo Devils: a recognized institution among the Mendi Tribe" and (ii) with the following caption to fig 19 in the aforesaid Bundu publication: "Alphonso Lisk-Carew's dramatic photograph of two ndoli joweisia and their attendants taken between 1905 and 1910...."

See section on Alphonso Sylvester Lisk-Carew on pp54-55 of the aforesaid Bundu publication

Jim Ross, (12/28/2012):

 Same image on a postcard with similar notations on front (i.e., "Bondu Devils, Freetown, Sierra Leone" and "A. Lisk-Carew, Photo, Freetown, Sierra Leone") with no postdate visible appears on p35 of Chamans, sorciers et guérisseurs, a 2009 publication by Editions Cartouche, Paris on postcards in the collection of Stéphane Mangin.

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) 35. [Need translation from German to dertermine relevant text]

Jim Ross, (9/11/2015): This photograph of Sande women appears in the Boston Museum of Fine Art publication entitled Material Journeys. Collecting African and Oceanic Art, 1945-2000 - Selections from the Geniève McMillan Collection (2007) 46, fig 9 with the following caption: Women of the Bundu sodality, Freetown, Sierra Leone, about 1905." The photograph is by "Arthur Lisk-Carew, a Creole photographer who operated a successful studio in Freetown with his brother Alphonso" and is further discussed on pp46-7.

Jim Ross, (10/26/2016): A hand-colored but narrower version of this image which still displays the two maskers appears in dada Africa - Dialogue with the Other edited by Ralf Baumeister, Michaela Oberhofer, and Esther Tisa Francini (2016) 68, ill. g. On p77, we find a most informative & extensive note by Nanina Guyer which begins as follows: "Cat.2.8, p68. Alphonso Lisk-Carew, Bondoo Devils, Sierra Leone. Photograph from 1905, Freetown, Sierra Leone, postcard published by Lisk-Carew Brothers, Freetown around 1915, colored and printed in England." The balance of the note is too long to quote but I highly recommend that it be consulted. A hand-colored version of the full postcard  appears on p110 in ill. 2 with a caption  that says that the photograph was taken in 1905 by Alphonso Lisk-Carew and published by Lisk-Carew Brothers "around 1915."