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Catalog Data

Maker:
Lega artist  Search this
Medium:
Ivory
Dimensions:
H x W x D: 9.8 x 3.8 x 1.5 cm (3 7/8 x 1 1/2 x 9/16 in.)
Type:
Jewelry
Geography:
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Date:
Late 18th century
Label Text:
Precolonial Lega society was governed by Bwami, a graded association open to all men and women in a given village. Bwami was also an educational system through which esteemed Lega values were taught. Above all, Bwami conveyed prestige, and its activities were the sole impetus for the visual arts.
The highest grades in Bwami were yananio and kindi, ranks comprising the intellectual, moral and political elite of the society, who were privileged to own or have access to the most prestigious art forms. Among these were carved wood, ivory or bone figurines that were also used to teach Bwami initiates moral precepts. The figurines represent a vast array of characters and personages from Bwami proverbs. They illustrate such cultural values as respect and moderation. This figurine is also a pendant and would have been worn suspended from a necklace or belt.
Description:
Ivory figurine pendant, flat with diamond shaped head, the chin on the torso and short legs. The pendant has a honey colored patina with darker color in recesses.
Provenance:
Private Belgian collection, 1947-1950 to 1986
Count J.J. de Launoit, Brussels, 1986 to 1993
Content Statement:
As part of our commitment to accessibility and transparency, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art is placing its collection records online. Please note that some records are incomplete (missing image or content descriptions) and others reflect out-of-date language or systems of thought regarding how to engage with and discuss cultural heritage and the specifics of individual artworks. If you see content requiring immediate action, we will do our best to address it in a timely manner. Please email nmafacuratorial@si.edu if you have any questions.
Image Requests:
High resolution digital images are not available for some objects. For publication quality photography and permissions, please contact the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives at https://africa.si.edu/research/eliot-elisofon-photographic-archives/
Topic:
Initiation  Search this
Leadership  Search this
Status  Search this
Male use  Search this
male  Search this
Credit Line:
Acquisition Grant from the James Smithson Society
Object number:
93-5-1
Restrictions & Rights:
CC0
See more items in:
National Museum of African Art Collection
Data Source:
National Museum of African Art
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ys7746ed509-391a-424f-a424-d30005a205e7
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmafa_93-5-1