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

Lega mask (N° 20474)

This African mask is used during the initiation rites of the Bwami society. This society is open to men and women. The center of the mask is coated with kaolin and is cut into a heart. The passage of a rank indicated the acquisition of a certain wisdom and individual morality. Abraded two-tone patina. Residues of kaolin. Height on base : 34 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.  

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OriginCollection belge
EthnyLega
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height22
Width15
Weight0.39 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle includedYes

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