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

Lega Bwami mask (N° 20562)

Characteristic of traditional Lega masks, this work carved in a flat volume, with the facial features outcropping, indicated the stage its holder had reached within the Bwami, a learning society composed of different ranks, and joined by wives whose spouses had reached the third level, that of the ngandu.
. Light patina, crusty residue of kaolin. Cracks.
Height on base: 46 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 known as Warega, they 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. During ritual ceremonies, Idumu masks were presented to the initiates placed on a fence and surrounded by smaller masks. This mask is used during the initiation rites of the Bwami society. This society is open to both men and women. The passage of a rank indicated the acquisition of a certain wisdom and individual morality.  

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OriginEx-collection Mercier
EthnyLega
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height47
Width16
Weight0.66 Kg
Socle includedYes

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