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.)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Late 18th century
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.
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.
Private Belgian collection, 1947-1950 to 1986
Count J.J. de Launoit, Brussels, 1986 to 1993
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