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

Lega Idimu mask (N° 21646)

Large, concave, blind orbits distinguish this African Lega mask, the latter supposedly determining the stage of Bwami to which its holder has reached. Contrary to most masked traditions in African art, Lega women can also handle and wear the masks, but the man remains the mask holder. According to Biebuyck, the blind mask is linked to a proverb relating to the vision of the heart, preferable to that of the visible. According to S.Diakonoff on the other hand, it was a threat for who would reveal the secret of the initiates of the Bwami. Cracks and lack.
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 in 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 initiates placed on a fence and surrounded by smaller masks.  

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OriginEx-collection belge
EthnyLega
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height27
Width17
Weight0.35 Kg
Socle inclusOptional

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