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Tribal art > African mask > Masque League

Masque League (N° 17475)

Made from a turtle shell with raffia braids embroidered with cauris indicating the features, this ancient circular African mask is believed to have come from the Lega. He accompanied the initiation ceremonies. It has a belt of plant fibers attached to the posterior contour. It would be a mask of the type elanda cassoirized with guinea fowl and hen feathers, worn by the master of the lodge, and which would come from the area around the Itombwe massif where the Lega share with the Bembe the rites of the society Elanda . The Bwami's introductory box also had the shape of a turtle shell, one of the emblematic animals of the clan from which they draw qualities. Rare piece in excellent condition.
At the Lea, the society of the Bwami 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. This mask is used during the initiation rites of the Bwami society. It is open to men and women. The passage of a rank indicated the acquisition of a certain individual wisdom and morality.
Ref.: Masks, Masterpieces of the Coll. of the Musée du Quai Branly p.68.  

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OriginCollection Lenoir
EthnyLega
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)carapace de trotue, cauris, plumes
Height cm28
Width20 cm
Weight0.35 Kg
Estimated datingmid xxe
Socle includedYes

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