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Classification: Sculpture

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Image of Maskette (Lukwakongo)

Lega Peoples

Maskette (Lukwakongo)

20th century

20 x 3 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 9.53 x 3.81 cm)
Medium and Support: Wood, raffia, and pigment
Accession Number: 2015.0014.0001

Credit Line: Gift of Dileep and Martha Mehta

Stylized wooden figures and caps decorated with cowrie shells were owned only by Lega who held prestigious positions within Bwami, an elite association whose membership safeguarded the moral and social codes that regulated community behavior. Bwami permeated every aspect of life and taught principles of moral perfection through proverbs, dances, and the presentation of objects. Members of Kindi and Yonanio, the highest and second highest levels of Bwami, constituted the intellectual, moral, and political elite of Lega society. Only they were privileged to wear identifying regalia such as cowrie-covered caps or to own prestigious art forms such as figures carved in ivory, bone, or wood, or miniature masks of wood or ivory.

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