Mask (lukwakongo)

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

General Description

This small bearded mask is the insignia of yananio, the last grade before reaching the pinnacle in the Lega’s governing Bwami association. Representing the ideal Lega man, it is not a conventional face mask but may be worn on other parts of the body, simply held in one’s hands, or displayed on the ground, a mat, or a fence. Lukwakongo literally means “death gathers in,” a reference to the portrayal and importance of the ancestors. Before the presentation to the initiate who will be its new owner, the mask is placed on an ancestral grave to express continuity of Bwami leadership from the past to the present.

Excerpt from

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