Tribal art > African mask > Masque League
Masque League Kayamba (N° 15080)
Ex-collection French African art.
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Almond eyes, a thin nasal ridge joining an eyebrow arch in the heart descending laterally to the incised lips of the teeth, and especially the presence of horns, make up the characteristics of this African mask lega Kayamba. This sculpture indicated the stage that its holder had reached within the Bwami, a learning society composed of different ranks, and which were joined by the wives whose spouse had reached the third level, that of the ngandu.
Beautiful light brown patina, residual white clay inlays around the eyes. Long raffia beard. 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 in the 17th 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 top of hills. The role of the chief, kindi, is held by the oldest man in the clan, who must be the highest-ranking. As in other forest tribes, men hunt and clear while women grow cassava. Social recognition and authority also had to be won 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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