Bwami Society Lega Mask on Custom Stand Congo
This is a house mask, used for protection, but not worn.¬† Note the absence of eye holes.
Lega sculptures are usually carved in a highly distinctive style, with a heart-shaped concave face with a slightly bulging forehead, slit coffee-bean eyes and an open narrow mouth. This¬† mask shows long use and much wear with color defining the face and enhancing its overall design. Lega masks such as this are known as Lukwakongo, and are a relatively standardized size. However this mask is larger than most Lega masks which identifies it with the upper two grades of the Lega Bwami secret society. The complex system of instruction, initiation, and advancement for both men and women in the Bwami society uses masks and figures to document the various levels of Bwami and to serve as badges validating the initiate s knowledge of the secrets of Bwami and of their rank. Through time Bwami initiates earn the privilege to wear and display masks that might be worn on their arms or faces or simply exposed on racks or on the ground indicating their rank before other Bwami society members. For the Lega the ultimate goal is to reach the uppermost level of Bwami where one would be recognized as a Kindi, a leader and also a moral and social authority to be honored with the right to wear or carry certain masks.
The Lega people live near the northern end of Lake Tanganyika on the banks of the Lualaba River in the DRC. They are also known as the Warega. Living in small village groups, they have no centralized authority, but govern themselves through a communal association known as "Bwami." This association is composed of male and female members, who strive to advance up through the various ranks of Bwami, a long process which involves challenges as well as proof of knowledge.
"Lega" African masks, which are a type of mask used by the Lega people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Lega masks are typically carved from wood and feature elongated faces with a central ridge, large almond-shaped eyes, and a small mouth. They are often decorated with intricate geometric patterns or symbolic motifs that represent aspects of Lega culture and beliefs.
These masks are typically used in the context of initiation and other important ceremonies, such as funerals and celebrations. They are believed to embody spiritual forces and serve as a means of communication between the living and the ancestors.
Lega masks are highly valued by collectors and art enthusiasts around the world for their intricate craftsmanship and symbolic significance. However, it's important to note that these masks are not just works of art but have important cultural and spiritual significance for the Lega people.