Four-faced half figure (sakimatwematwe)

Lega peoples
late 19th–mid–20th century
more object details

General Description

Sakimatwematwe, or “many heads” figures, visualize a Lega saying: “Many-Heads who has seen an elephant on the other side of the river.” This saying can be interpreted to mean that high-level members of Bwami—the governing association of the decentralized Lega—see in many directions and are wise and fair-minded.

This figure’s neck rests on a stool with legs bending outward at an angle. Its owner would have kept the stool sanded and oiled to maintain a smooth and shiny appearance. The spaces between the legs of the stool mean that every man has the potential to achieve success in Bwami, while the shiny surface refers to Bwami bringing light (knowledge) to people.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.