A head surmounting an abstract columnar body forming zigzags, the hatched base indicating toes, distinguishes this African sculpture intended for a Bwami initiate , among the many other statuettes used throughout initiations.
Satin brown patina. Fissures from desiccation and missing.
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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