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Tribal art > African mask > Masque League

Masque League Multifaces (N° 17549)

Clean geometry of primitive Lega masks.
This unusual, hypnotic mask juxtaposes three nasal edges separating the eyelids, giving the illusion of three faces. Three mouths indicated by hollowed-out rectangles asymmetrically fill the lower area. This sculpted work indicated the stage that its holder had reached within the Bwami, a learning society composed of different grades, and which was joined by the wives whose spouse had reached the third level, that of the ngandu. Beautiful patina of abraded use, mate.
At the Lea, 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 known as Warega, these individuals live in self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on the top of hills. The role of the leader, kindi, is held by the oldest man of 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 insiders placed on a fence and surrounded by smaller masks. The teacher guided the aspirant to a place where masks and statuettes were exposed, and it was through careful observation that the future initiate had to guess the more or less complex meaning of these metaphors, the latter referring largely to proverbs and sayings. Those who were not allowed to see the object, in order to be protected, had to submit to expensive ceremonies, and sometimes even join the lower rank of the Bwami, the kongabulumbu, at great expense to the families. 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. (Art of the Lega, Cameron)  

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OriginCollection. Pr. J. Putteneers
EthnyLega
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height cm30
Width20 cm
Weight0.44 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle inclusOptional

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