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Details about  African art: Traditional hand carved Lega Mask DR Congo

African art: Traditional hand carved Lega Mask DR Congo

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AU $180.00
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AU $14.80 Express Postage | See details
Item location:
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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Last updated on  14 Jun, 2010 15:51:01 AEST  View all revisions

Item specifics

Used: An item that has been used previously. See the seller’s listing for full details and description of ... Read moreabout the condition
Product Type: African Sculpture
Region: DR Congo Era: 1980s

African Art at Timbuctu to Tasmania

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Lukwakongo mask, Lega People, Democratic Republic of Congo

This is a very fine
and unusual example of Lega mask making. It is in excellant condition, carved from a softwood and was collected in 2000.
It measures 25 x 18cm and can be supplied with the stand pictured.

The Balega, formerly known as the Warega, live to the north-west of Lake Tanganyika and dwell in small villages with no central structure of authority. Their social life is dominated by the Bwami  society to which every man and woman belongs. This society is divided into five grades for men and three for women, the art of the Balega being produced to signify the passage of members from one grade to another.
Among the Lega, masks are used by the 2 senior grades of the Bwami association, Kindi and Yananio, to symbolise the attainment of higher levels of ethical teaching.  Masks of wood are used by the Kindi as part of an ensemble of objects to illustrate concepts of Bwami ethics. Multi headed figures signify wisdom and impartiality. The great variety of Lega masks makes classification difficult.
Lukwakongo masks are owned by men who belong to the association's second highest grade of the Bwami, Lutumbo Lwa Yananio. Such masks indicate rank and are worn or displayed, during rituals, in a variety of ways including on the head, forehead, arm, shoulder or simply held in the hand. Like other objects of this kind, they are placed in a basket during ritual and given to a member of a society.
In essence, a mask symbolises a man's male ancestry; descriptions of a mask as "a semblance of man," "the skull of a dead one" or "the skull of my father" reveal its ancestral aspect. There are a host of other meanings relating to people, animals or concepts which these carvings can evoke (Biebuyck 1973:210-13, passing pls. 60-62).
Decorated with kaolin, the typical Lega mask has a concave white face which contrasts with a darker edge. The lines are very simple and emphasise the long bridge of the nose. The mouth is placed very low at the junction of the 2 facial planes. The eyes are carved at different levels, a characteristic common to Lega masks.
Much of the white kaolin coating has been worn away by handling. The whitened, depressed, heart shaped face represents the easternmost extension of this motif, found in many areas of the Equatorial Forest zone.

  • All of our African art has been fumigated and passed Australian Customs and Quarantine inspection on arrival in Australia.
  • International buyers please email for shipping quotation, methods and times before buying.
  • Unless otherwise requested international shipments go via Australia post - Air Parcel Post.
  • We carry an international shipping insurance policy which covers all of our international as well as domestic freight and post for any amount in excess of the first AU$350.00
  • We are not responsible for any transit damage however we do pack all goods in solid and secure packaging.
  • We are not responsible for any international tax or duty charges.
  • We will provide paperwork for Customs that accompanies each package.
  • Payment on all auctions must be received within 7 days.
  • This item is made by hand, may be old and used. Wear and imperfections are expected. It is described to the best of our ability and any damage will be visible in the images. If you are unsure of the item condition please email for further images or detail before bidding.

When buying in Africa we use fair trade practice.
Read more about our gallery and policies visit Sidewalk Tribal Galleries African Art
For more information about the age of our pieces please check the following link:
How old are these artefacts?
Our ethics policy

Please feel free to email me for further information: ann@sidewalkgallery.com.au

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Since its inception in 1989 Sidewalk Gallery has become a renowned Tribal Arts Gallery. Specialising in Antique & Traditional African Sculpture representing more than 85 separate cultures collected from 26 countries across Africa.
Ethnic jewellery and other items of adornment , both antique & contemporary, from every continent continues to astound all who enter the gallery.
The collection is spectacular.

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Item location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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Any defective product must be notified within 3 days upon receipt of shipment for exchange. Shipping fees are non-refundable for all returned items. Returned goods must be packaged in original packaging and carton. An authorisation number is required on all returned packages. Please email us for a return number. Products accepted for return that have been damaged through misuse, and/or have been tampered with do not qualify for a refund/exchange.

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