African art > Mask > League Masquette
League Masquette (N° 17121)
Appointed Lukwagengo, this African mask in the shape of a bleached face, like this flat copy that bears tiny traces of kaolin, are not face masks but are worn at the back of the head, on the forehead, hung on the shoulders, fixed on a bamboo support or carried by hand during dances. It is the insignia of the penultimate rank of Bwami insiders that surround a mother mask named idumu .
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Hightop: 34 cm.
The wooden versions measure around 20 cm while the bone or even ivory versions are even smaller. Within the Lea, the society of the Bwami 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 in 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 self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on the top of hills. The role of the leader, kindi, is held by the oldest man of the clan, who must be the highest ranking. As in other forest tribes, men hunt and clear while women grow cassava. Social recognition and authority also had to be won individually: the chief owed his selection to his heart (mutima), good character, intelligence, and impeccable behavior. During ritual ceremonies, Idumu masks were presented to insiders placed on a fence and surrounded by smaller masks. The passage of a rank indicated the acquisition of a certain individual wisdom and morality.
Ref.: "The Tribal Art of Black Africa " J.B. Bacquart; "Art of the Lega" E.L.Cameron "
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|Country||rdc ex zaire|
|Estimated dating||2ème halfxx°|
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