African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Lega mask

Lega Bwami mask (N° 20512)

Fine, delicate features for this Lega mask featuring half-closed coffee bean eyelids and a slightly domed, half-open mouth. The whitish kaolin coating is partially flaked. Velvety surface.
Height on base: 36 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 seventeenth century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. Also called Warega , these individuals live in self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on hilltops. The role of chief, kindi, is held by the oldest man in the clan, who must be the highest ranking. As in other forest tribes, the men hunt and clear land while the women cultivate cassava. Social recognition and authority had to be earned individually: the chief owed his selection to his heart (mutima), good character, intelligence, and impeccable behavior. In ritual ceremonies, Idumu masks were presented to initiates placed on a fence and surrounded by smaller masks. The teacher would guide the aspirant to a place where masks and statuettes were displayed, and it was through careful observation that the future initiate had to guess the more or less complex meaning of these metaphors, the latter referring largely to proverbs and sayings. Those who were not allowed to see the object, in order to be protected from it, had to undergo costly ceremonies, and sometimes even join the lower rank of the Bwami,the kongabulumbu ,at great expense to the families. Each of these initiations took place over seven days and involved at least seven performances. Objects "won" individually were then kept in a woven bag worn on the shoulder, in a basket for those won collectively. (Art of the Lega, Cameron)  

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OriginEx-collection luxembourgeoise
EthnyLega
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height25
Width14
Weight0.60 Kg
Estimated dating2ème halfxx°
Socle includedYes

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