Lega Mask



The Lega do not possess a centralized political organization, but both men and women govern themselves through a communal association known as Bwami. The function of the Bwami is to regulate the social, religious, and political life of the Lega. Members struggle to achieve progression in the various ranks of Bwami. For the Lega the ultimate goal is to reach the highest level of Bwami when one would become a Kindi, one who exercises moral influence within society. The Bwami are divided into several levels. To be accepted to the next level, a series of initiations, gifts, and payments are needed; and this means that one has to attain certain wisdom and acquire a personal moral sense. Various categories of objects are used in connection with the association's activities, including figures, masks, and hats. These masks are emblems of membership in the Bwami society of the Lega tribes

This type mask, known as lukwakongo, belonged to members of the second highest degree of the Bwami society. The long raffia beard attached to this mask is a symbol of the ancestors, former initiates. Most of these masks are not worn as dance masks, but displayed on ritual occasions. In Bwami ceremonies, masks are attached to different parts of the body, piled in stacks, hung on fences, displayed, dragged on the ground, and occasionally worn on the forehead with the beard draped over the face of the wearer. Bwami uses masks and figures to document the various levels of Bwami and to serve as badges confirming the initiate’s knowledge of the secrets of Bwami and of their rank.

Wood , Raffia cloth

Height : 22″ (55.9cm)