Lega (Balega, Rega,
Ceremonial mask. The 100,000 to 250,000 Lega inhabit the virgin forest of eastern DRC. They practice a mixed economy involving agriculture, hunting and fishing. Division of labor is gender based and akin to the economic patterns of other tribes living in the forest environment: men hunt and clear new land and women cultivate manioc and other crops. Both men and women aspire to moral authority by gaining high rank in the bwami initiation association. The function of the bwami association is to regulate the social, religious, and political life of the Lega. It is conveying ethical principles and establishing social norms. Circumcision was an indispensable process that allowed entrance into the bwami. It was accompanied by the teaching of proverbs and instruction in the handling of objects endowed with moral and practical significance. Many categories of objects, including masks are used in connection with the associations activities. Wooden masks with heart-shaped, concave faces painted with white pigment are owned, in some areas, by every male member of the most advanced level of the second highest grade of the bwami association. These masks are not worn over the face. Participants in most rites display their masks as a group in conjunction with particular dance movements and aphorisms, which vary depending on the context in which they are used. In some rites they may be held in the hand, in others they may be fixed to hats or arranged on a miniature palisade.
Material: wood, raffia