African art > Headdresses and hats, headdresses > Lega Cap

Lega Cap (N° 25809)

This type of head ornament is intended for members of the upper echelons of the bwami secret society, governing the lega social structure. This society, which instructs its members in terms of moral perfection, is open to circumcised adults and their wives. These prestigious headdresses are part of the masengo, meaning that they are sacred and can therefore only be worn by initiates. The owner cannot part with it during his lifetime. Bwami has different degrees, with yananio and kindi being the highest. The materials used vary, they can be clothing buttons, cowrie shells, pearls or cocoa beans. Cowrie shells, an ancient currency in Africa, line a cap carefully woven from natural fibers. This type of headgear was originally topped with elephant hair in reference to the destructive power of the animal beneath its imperturbable appearance. This prestigious accessory, prohibited today, was reserved for initiates of the lowest echelon who identified with the animal.

Source: “Initiates”. Ed. Dapper Museum ; “Animal”Dapper Museum.  

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Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)vannerie, cauris, plant fibre
Height cm17
Width19 cm
Weight0.33 Kg
Estimated datingcirca 1960
Socle inclusOptional

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