Lega Janus Sakimatwematwe Figure, Democratic Republic of Congo #296

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  • Lega Figure from the Democratic Republic of Congo #296 
  • Magnificent Lega Two-headed Janus Bust known as a Sakimatwematwe with wonderful expressions.
  • Multi-headed Iginga Lega Statue/ Iginga-type are considered the most powerful in the Bwami Society Cult. During Ceremonies, Ingingas are rubbed with palm oil and coated with kaolin clay, which gives them this beautiful patina.
  • Sometimes, certain Village Shamans happen to "grate" them in tiny patches, and use the sawdust and chips in Medicinal Potions to be ingested by a Supplicant or Initiate.
  • When Inginga Figures have several heads, they are called Sakimatwematwe.
  • The poetry inherent in Lega spiritual belief is manifest in all objects attached to the Initiation Rituals of the Bwami Society. The Bwami is a closed Men's Organization with Graded Membership and complex Initiation Rites that impose a high moral and philosophical code. Above all, it teaches co-operation amongst its Members.
  • According to Vogel (1988: 90), Lega "sculptures are elements of Ritual Paraphernalia [...]. As proverbs are recited to the Initiates by Senior Members, the Figures are held up as mnemonics." The aphorism most often connected to Figures like the our example above featuring multiple heads surmounting an "elephant's foot" pedestal, are generally known as Sakimatwematwe.
  • Sakimatwematwe roughly translates to "Mr. Many-Heads who has seen an elephant on the other side of the large river" (Biebuyck 1973: 220).
  • "A hunter goes across a great river, sees an elephant on the other bank, returns to look for other hunters to help, but when he returns he finds that the others have already killed the elephant" (de Kun 1966: 88). This aphorism points to the inability of the Individual to accomplish a great task alone, and to the greater good that lies in the Community. Rather than starting an effort on his own, the hunter acts wisely in looking for help and eventually gets the task accomplished without any physical effort of his own. Another interpretation is that the Bwami Society enables its Members through Initiation to see in many different directions; a metaphor for the "Wisdom, Fairness and Omniscience of the Initiate" (Biebuyck 1973: 221).
  • Measurements : 25×10×12 cm
  • Light-weight and light-colored wood. Pigment (kaolin).
  • Condition: Good; traces of use, a tiny bit of cracking from desiccation at the junction of the two heads.
  • Estimate age: Second half of the 20th century.
  • Provenance: Private European Collection.