Lega figure
Democratic Republic of the Congo
A really great Lega human figure, arms to the chest, feathers on the head and a wonderful patina to the wood with traces of
kaolin on the face.
13" tall

Lega wooden figures are used in performances of the Bwami society to teach moral values, good and bad.

Wood and ivory figures have a wide range of style and quality in the carving. The member of the Bwami society who needed a
sculpture carved would give the artist the requirements for the statue and the artist would have a great deal of artistic freedom
in determining the final appearance of the object. Many figures have a varied degree of form and style, and unless the original
context of the object was known it is impossible to determine it’s specific use or function.

References: Art of the Lega
Examples and information below for reference purposes
These objects are not in my collection
Sotheby's, Nov 11, 2005 - LOT 110

PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN COLLECTION
A FINE LEGA FEMALE FIGURE

estimate 18,000—22,000 USD

MEASUREMENTS
height 8in. 20.5cm

DESCRIPTION
the angular legs tapering to the torso with protruding navel and breasts framed by truncated arms, the sloping shoulders supporting the
head with scooped, heart-shaped facial plane, notched mouth and coffee-bean eyes; varied medium brown patina with areas of kaolin.

CATALOGUE NOTE
Lega wooden figures are rare and served as part of the contents of a basket used during initiation ceremonies. As Biebuyck (2002: 119)
describes, '...the essential presentation takes place during the kunanuna masengo rite in lutumbo lwa kindi. The figurines are removed
from the baskets together with numerous other manufactured and natural objects, and they are displayed. One by one, sometimes
several in a single sequence, the sculptures are picked up by the presentors and danced wiith. For a long time these important figurines
were barely represented in world collections. They were jealously kept by the initiates as expressions of their in-group spirit, as major
links with the deceased predecessors and as a profound expression of ultimate values and historical interdependencies. Several of these
larger wooden figurines represent in their morphology a sort of prototypical icon where form, action and meaning conicide to some extent.'
Sotheby's, Nov 11, 2005 - LOT 113

A LEGA FEMALE FIGURE

estimate 5,000—8,000 USD

MEASUREMENTS
height 11 5/8 in. 29.5cm

DESCRIPTION  
iginga, standing on wedge-shaped feet, the angular legs leading to the waisted torso framed by truncated arms beneath the
spherical head with a heart-shaped facial plane; varied redish to medium brown patina.

PROVENANCE
James Willis, San Francisco, April 1978

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES
Bradley, Traditional African Sculpture from the Britt Family Collection, 1982: 9, figure 6, catalogue of the exhibition, Notre
Dame, Indiana, The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, October 24 - December 19, 1982

CATALOGUE NOTE
See Biebuyck (1973: 160-161 and plates 67-71) for related figures. Figures created for the Lega bwami men's society
illustrate characters with either good or poor moral values. Bradley (1982: 9) suggests that the Britt figure with her fine
scarification, carefully rounded head and drawn-out lower jaw portrays a 'good' woman with positive traits.
CLICK HERE to go to my Lengola figures page
The Lengola are a group of people that lived in close proximity
to the Lega and share similar aesthetic qualities in their
carvings and masks.
Art of the Lega
is a fantastic reference book on the Lega