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Lega (DRC) Carved Wood Janiform Bwami and Iginga Figures

Item Details

Lega (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central Africa)
Janiform Bwami and Iginga figures
Carved and pigmented wood
Figures such as the Janiform sculpture were used as a didactic device during the ritual of Bwami Society to educate young initiates. Their metaphoric form help instructors to pass the message as do the proverbs, legends, myths and slogans. Figures with multiple heads are known as SAKIMATWEMATWE. The number of the heads and the way the heads are presented vary considerably and have all the same meaning and function. Much of Bwami imagery plays upon traditional proverbs, double meanings and subtle references to Bwami philosophy. According to Daniel Biebuyck the saying associated to the multiple-heads figures is" Many-Heads who has seen an elephant on the other side of the river" which means " A hunter goes across a great river, sees an elephant on the other bank, returns to look for other hunters to help blurt when he returns he finds that the others have already killed the elephant" (De Kun: 1966,88) mentioned by Cameron (see reference below). The lesson behind this saying is that a high-level Bwami member should be able to “see in many direction and be wise and fair minded” .


- nicks, scratches, and abrasions throughout; larger sculpture is not attached to the stand; stains present; chipping and cracks; accretions to the crevices.


5.5" W x 19.75" H x 5.5" D

- measures the larger sculpture; measurements are approximate.

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