African art > Mask > Masque League
Masque League (N° 16746)
A losangic shape for this shallow, semi-closed African mask, illustrating the astonishing diversity of African masks of the Lega group. This sculpture, whose patinated surface, locally eroded, retains a crusty white clay coating, indicated the stage that its holder had reached within the Bwami, a learning society composed of different grades, and joined by the wives whose spouse had reached the third level, that of the ngandu. Fine scarifications soaring, parallel to the nose, are drawn on the cheeks and on the front.br / Within the Léga, the society of the Bwami 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 17th century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. Also known as Warega, these individuals live in self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on the top of hills. The role of the leader, kindi, is held by the oldest man of the clan, who must be the highest ranking. As in other forest tribes, men hunt and clear while women grow cassava. Social recognition and authority also had to be won individually: the chief owed his selection to his heart (mutima), good character, intelligence, and impeccable behavior. During ritual ceremonies, Idumu masks were presented to insiders placed on a fence and surrounded by smaller masks. This mask is used during the initiation rites of the Bwami society. It is open to men and women. The passage of a rank indicated the acquisition of a certain individual wisdom and morality.
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