|Title||Lega Mask Bearded Bwami Society Congo African Art|
|Type of Object||Mask|
|Country of Origin||Democratic Republic of Congo|
|Materials||Wood, pigment, fibers, clay|
|Approximate Age||20th century|
|Dimensions||Height: 17 Inches
Width: 13 Inches
Beard extends mask to 40 Inch Length
|Damage/Repair||Damaged mouth, arrested bug damage, cracks, chips and a well worn patina|
This large wooden mask was used for initiation to one of the first two levels of the Bwami society. The white sections were repainted with Pembe each time they were danced. The mask was worn by the initiates and also displayed on a fence during the ceremonies of Lega Bwami society. This mask shows signs of use and has good age.
The Lega people live near the northern end of Lake Tanganyika on the banks of the Lualaba River and 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 achieve advancement in the various ranks of Bwami. For the Lega the ultimate goal is to reach the uppermost level of "Bwami" when one would become a "Kindi," one who exercises moral influence within society. The complex system of instruction, initiation and advancement in Bwami 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. Initiates earn the privilege to wear and display masks which might be worn on their arms or faces or simply exposed on racks or on the ground.
"ART OF AFRICA" by Kerchache et al. Biebuyck, D. "Lega Culture: Art, Initiation, and Moral Philosophy among a Central African People." 1973; ART OF THE LEGA, by Cameron, E., 2001