This African mask is used during the initiation rites of the Bwami society, accessible to men and women. The passage of a rank indicated the acquisition of a certain individual wisdom and morality. Offering certain animal elements such as ears placed high up, this mask has the particularity of being surrounded by a border in relief, suggesting fur or a beard. The deeply sunken globes, encrusted with residual kaolin, reveal almond-shaped eyelids. The jaw places the mouth in projection.
Locally grainy satin patina.
Height on base: 42 cm.
Within the Lega, the Bwami society organized social and political life. There were up to seven levels of initiation, each associated with emblems. Following their exodus from Uganda during the 17th century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. The role of chief, kindi, is held by the oldest man in the clan, who must be the highest ranking Social recognition and authority also had to be earned individually: the chief owed his selection to his heart (mutima), a good character, his intelligence, and an irreproachable behavior. During ritual ceremonies, the Idumu masks, of collective property, were presented to the initiates placed on a barrier and surrounded by individual masks of smaller format.
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