Lega Lukwakongo mask
Bwami masks in african art
A small wooden mask, carved with a sense of delicate beauty. The head is oval in shape and frames a heart shaped face. The eyes are slightly bulbous and are half open under high, arching brows. The long nose is flat and the mouth is small and slightly open and sits low down on the small chin. The sides of the mask are pierced for the attachment of raffia strands and the face is covered in white kaolin clay.
These small masks are not worn in the conventional sense of a mask on the face, but are often attached to special racks for display, or on the body of a member of the semi-secret Bwami society. These masks represent revered ancestors and are passed on from generation to generation. They play a vital role in the initiation ceremonies of the Lega and embody multiple meanings. For the Lega the concept of moral integrity is closely bound to ideas of physical beauty and this is conveyed through the delicate, otherworldly rendering of these masks.
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