African art > Statues > Animal figures

Lega zoomorphic figures of Bwami (N° 18107)

Eager to appropriate the qualities of certain animals whose mores they knew remarkably, the initiates of the Lega often adopted the names of different vertebrates. These two terracotta statuettes, forming generic figures of quadruped (mugugundu) from the Lega environment, belonged to a high-ranking Bwami. The exhaust of the tail of one of them is missing.
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 chief, kindi , is held by the oldest man of the clan, who must be the highest ranked. As in other forest tribes, men hunt and clear while women grow cassava. The Bwami, a secret society admitting men and their wives, governed social life. This organization was subdivided into initiation stages, the highest being the Kindi . Bwami has varying degrees, with the yananio and kindi being the highest. The teacher guided the aspirant to a place where masks and statuettes were on display, and it was through careful observation that the future initiate had to guess the more or less complex meaning of the metaphors associated with the sculptures, largely referring to proverbs and sayings. Each of these initiations took place over seven days and featured at least seven performances. Items won individually were then kept in a woven bag worn over the shoulder, in a basket for those who were won collectively. Litt.: Art of the Lega E.L.Cameron  

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OriginCollection Lenoir
Countryrdc ex zaire
Weight0.64 Kg

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