|Title||Lega Passport Mask Congo African Art|
|Country of Origin||Democractic Republic of Congo|
|Materials||Wood & Pigment|
|Approximate Age||Mid 20th century|
|Dimensions||Height: 5.5 Inches
Width: 3 Inches
Depth: 1.75 Inches
|Overall Condition||Fair. 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||Chips, loss of decoration, arrested bug damage, wear..|
Additional Information: Lega masks are usually carved in a distinctive style, with a heart-shaped concave face, slightly protruding forehead, and a narrow nose. Most of Lega mask' faces are rubbed with white clay (pembe) each time they are used and thereby acquire the white patina that colors the face and enhances the various decorative designs.
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.
For similar examples, and more information, see "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