Ovoid mask in which a heart-shaped face is inscribed, in which the almond-shaped eyelids adjoin a straight nose. Velvety patina of use, old residues of kaolin.
This carving indicated the stage that its holder had reached within the Bwami, an apprenticeship society composed of different grades, and joined by wives whose spouses had reached the third level, that of the ngandu. Nice abraded, matte patina of use.
Within the Lega, the Bwami society 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 during the seventeenth century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. Also called Warega , these individuals live in self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on hilltops. The role of chief, kindi , is held by the oldest man in the clan, who must be the highest ranking. As in other forest tribes, the men hunt and clear land while the women cultivate cassava. Social recognition and authority had to be earned individually: the chief owed his selection to his heart (mutima), good character, intelligence, and impeccable behavior. During ritual ceremonies, Idumu masks were presented to initiates placed on a fence and surrounded by smaller masks.
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