Ex-collection of Belgian African art.

Face in heart for this African Lega mask that was not worn in front of the face but placed on a rack with other masks of different sizes, attached to the arm, neck, or held by hand. The contours are streaked with hatching associated with traditional scarification. A raffia beard accompanies this tribal mask. Brown patina, granular residue of kaolin. This African Lega mask indicated the stage that its holder had reached in the Bwami, an apprenticeship society composed of different grades, and which was joined by wives whose spouses had reached the third level, that of ngandu . Mask on base: 38 cm.
Within the Lega, the Bwami society, open to men and women, organized social and political life. There were up to seven levels of initiation, each associated with emblems. Following their exodus from Uganda during the 17th century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. Also known as Warega, these individuals live in autonomous villages surrounded by palisades, usually on hilltops. The role of chief, Kindi, is held by the oldest man in the clan, who is expected to be the highest ranking member. As in other forest tribes, the men hunt and clear land while the women grow cassava. Social recognition and authority was also to be gained individually: the chief owed his selection to his heart (mutima), good character, intelligence, and irreproachable behavior. In ritual ceremonies, Idumu masks were presented to initiates placed on a fence and surrounded by smaller masks. This mask is used during the initiation rites of the Bwami society. It is open to both men and women. The passing of a grade indicated the acquisition of a certain individual wisdom and morality.  

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OriginCollection Colmant
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood, raphia
Height cm38
Width14 cm
Weight0.60 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle includedYes

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