|Circa 1900-1910, Lega Tribe, DR Congo|
As Daniel P. Biebuyck wrote in his book, Lega Culture: Art, Initiation, and Moral Philosophy Among a Central African People (University of California Press, 1973), face masks and smaller representations of such masks such as this extremely refined example were historically used as initiation objects in the Bwami society. They were often affixed to the body, or hung on cage-like structures built to hold the masks and keep them on display during initiation rituals.
The Bwami is the social society within which rules governing society are formed, taught, and enforced in Lega Tribe culture. It is the key to regulation of social behavior, ethics, and morality for the tribe.
As Biebuyck writes, masks are categorized into one of the following names: lukwakongo, kayam-ba, idimu, muminia, and lukungu depending upon a variety of factors. This beautiful lukwakongo style masquette would have been hung using fiber or twine to a latticed structure which would have been on display during Bwami society ceremonies and rituals, to either teach a proverb or convey another important message for Bwami initiates.
In the original publication of Georges' book in 2005, there was a tiny piece of raffia fiber attached in one of the holes. As the title indicates, the mask has a polished, rich, caramel-colored patina that reflects many years of handling. The holes for what was once a fibrous beard have been bored out with a hot metal tool, consistent with the tradition of creating mask holes in the DRC.
|Location of Origin: Africa|
|Medium/Materials: wood, stain|
|Dimensions: H 5'' (12.5 cm); W 2.5'' (6.35 cm); D 1'' at nose to rear of mask (2.54 cm)|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art|
Published: Les Lega et leur art by Emile-Alexandre Georges, Musée Royal de I'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, 2005, n"7, page 198.
|Provenance: Ex. Yann Ferrandin, Paris, Member of the French Compagnie Nationale des Expeds C.N.EEx. Emile-Alexandre Georges (acquired in 1958 en situ)|
|Price:||Item has been sold.|
|Offered By:||Items for sale from dealers we worked with previously|
121 Mount Vernon, Boston, MA 02108 USA
Item has been sold.
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