Origin: the Democratic Republic of Congo
Approx Age: 1970’s – 1980
Materials: Wood, Kaolin, Raffia
Dimensions cm: 27 tall x 19 wide
Ref. Number: 1500
A lovely styled Lega mask used in the Bwami society of initiations. A nice heart-shaped face with some kaolin missing where it’s possibly been stored. It still has its raffia beard which is always nice to see.
Provenance: Edi Remondino. René & Denise David purchased this from Edi Remondino in 1999. Gallery Walu.
Lega masks are used as initiation objects in the Bwami society. Masks are divided into five types according to the material, size, and form: lukwakongo, kayam-ba, idimu, muminia, and lukungu. They serve as an important mark of rank, identifying the owners as members of specific Bwami levels.
Unlike many masks in other African cultures, the masks of the Lega are not always worn over the face, they are also attached to the body, held in the hand or simply hung on fences during the initiation ceremonies of the Bwami society.
The main gods of the Lega people are Kalaga, the promiser; Kenkunga, the assembler; and Ombe, the hidden. Kaginga is recognized as the incarnation of evil and assists sorcerers. By joining Bwami one can develop an immunity to the evil doings of most witches. The highest rank of Bwami is Kindi and is directly associated with the skulls of the ancestors, which are placed in a hut at the centre of the village. Objects which contain powerful supernatural medicines are not exposed to the public eye but are instead placed with the Kindi.
References: Art of the Lega & https://uiowa.edu/ Art of Africa
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