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The Mende are farmers who grow rice, yams, peanuts, and cocoa and who collect palm oil. The large Mende population numbering over 2,000,000 comprises numerous kinds of social structures, such as firmly marked kin groups, political hierarchies and societies for diverse purposes: training boys and girls in appropriate behavior, protection against enemies or curing illnesses. Most bodily ills are believed to result from transgressions against the rules of conduct laid down by one society or another. The various societies employ sculpted figures as guardians and as curative agents. The majority represent the female figure, either seated or standing, with the hands touching the body. Such figures are placed in or near the society’s processions when the society officials appear in public. The statue could have been used in ritual or for prestige.