Lot: 282

98th Auction

Anthropomorphic figure "iginga" (pl. "maginga")

D. R. Congo, Lega

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Hilde & Lavuun Quackelbeen, Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium H: 11 inch This object is not available anymore.

wood, kaolin, base

These wooden figures were kept in baskets, which were communal property. One basket could contain dozens of figures. According to Biebuyck, they are also called "iginga" like the small figurines made of ivory.

The figures are presented during the "kunanuna masengo" rites of the highest and final "lutumbo lwa kindi" initiation level. They are taken out of the baskets and displayed on the floor. One by one, the sculptures are picked up by the preceptors and danced with.

Each embodies a particular type of character and served to convey the moral codes of conduct of "bwami" society. The best-known characters are "katanda" - a bad woman who is unstable and adulterous, "wayinda" - who embodies a pregnant adulteress or a woman on whom weighs a curse because of her illicit behavior, and "sakimatwematwe" or "Mr. Many-Heads", who embodies the superior knowledge and insight of a senior initiate who sees and knows things unseen and unknown to others.
For comparable figures with the same gesture as the present, see AHDRC 0026223 and 0026220. Their meaning, or moral message, is unknown to us.

For a long time these important figurines were bareley 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 profound expressions of ultimate values and historical interdependencies.

Biebuyck, Daniel P., Lega, Brussels 2002, p. 118 ff.