African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Lega figure

Lega Bwami / Zimba initation figure (N° 20855)

Among the many others used throughout the initiations, this African sculpture featuring a zigzag bust topped with a head was intended for an initiate of the Bwami.

Oiled brown patina. Abrasions and chips.
The teacher guided the aspirant to a place where masks and statuettes were displayed, and it was through careful observation that the future initiate had to guess the more or less complex meaning of the metaphors evoked by the sculptures, the latter referring largely to proverbs and sayings. Those who were not allowed to see the object, in order to be protected from it, had to undergo costly ceremonies, and sometimes even join the lower rank of the Bwami, the kongabulumbu ,at great expense to the families. Each of these initiations took place over seven days and involved at least seven performances. Objects "won" individually were then kept in a woven bag worn on the shoulder, in a basket for those won collectively. The " Masengo" objects of the Bwami ("powerful things")frequently show missing parts, perforations, or abrasions of the wood, due to ritual removals in order to resort to medicine. A decoction composed of the particles mixed with water was then administered to the patient.(Biebuyck 1976)  

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OriginEx-collection belge
EthnyLega
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height36
Width6
Weight0.40 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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