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Lega Buttons on Basketry Bwami Society Congo African Art

Product #: 112067
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Title Lega Buttons on Basketry Bwami Society Congo African Art
Type of Object Hat
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Lega
Materials Vegetal fibers, buttons
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Dimensions Height: 6 Inches
Width: 6.5 Inches
Overall Condition Fair to Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Dirty; some frayed fibers and missing beads/buttons; see pictures for details.

Additional Information:  Lega hats reveal status among the Bwami secret society which governs most of Lega life. Animals are important in Bwami symbolism, and elephant, pangolin, and hornbill all represent different levels of Bwami. This one is decorated with buttons the Lega got from Europeans. Besides any aesthetic consideration, these buttons added value and prestige to the hat. Hats such as this were worn by the grader members of the Bwami, the Ngandu and Yananio. They were worn during the ceremonies and dances celebrating new graders or initiates.

The buttons were most likely from the clothing of western missionaries!

For a fascinating article with numerous examples, see Elizabeth Cameron's article on Lega Hats in Arnoldi and Kreamer's CROWNING ACHIEVEMENTS-AFRICAN ARTS OF DRESSING THE HEAD. See also an example from the Collection of Marc and Denyse Ginzberg, Sotheby's, Paris, 10 september 2007, fig. 61 A