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

Lega Lukwakongo small mask (N° 20351)

Primitive Lega sculptures in African art. This mask, which was not intended to be worn, but handled during rituals, displays an oblong face in which the orbits are hollowed out in a heart. The center bears granular residues of white clay. This African Lega mask indicated the stage that its holder had reached within the Bwami, a learning society composed of different grades, and which was joined by wives whose spouse had reached the third level, that of the ngandu . Total height on base: 26 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, collectively owned, were presented to initiates placed on a fence and surrounded by individual masks of smaller size. 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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OriginCollection belge
EthnyLega
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height16
Width11
Weight0.10 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle includedYes

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