Rare Central Zaire Lega Sacred Ceremonial Headdress
Rare Central Zaire Lega Sacred Ceremonial Headdress
Rare Central Zaire Lega Sacred Ceremonial Headdress
Rare Central Zaire Lega Sacred Ceremonial Headdress
Rare Central Zaire Lega Sacred Ceremonial Headdress
Rare Central Zaire Lega Sacred Ceremonial Headdress
Rare Central Zaire Lega Sacred Ceremonial Headdress

Rare Central Zaire Lega Sacred Ceremonial Headdress

1900 to 2000 Zaire

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A Rare Central Zaire Lega Sacred Ceremonial Headdress formed from the Bony Armoured Skin of a Temmincks Pangolin
Early 20th Century

Size: 38cm long – 15 ins long
See: Finch & Co catalogue no. 12, item no. 31, for a specimen of a Temmincks Pagolin
cf: A Lega hat made from a Pangolin in the Stanley collection of African Art at the University of Iowa Museum, USA

The Lega live in eastern Kivu province, Zaire, a densely forested area close to the Equator. They live by hunting and gathering, fishing and some slash and burn agriculture. Worn by a high-ranking initiate of the Lega Bwami society this distinctive headdress demonstrates the status of its owner. Regarded as a sacred object it was used in dances and initiations carrying an important symbolic message.
Associated with power and authority, for the Lega the pangolin is also a cultural hero who they believe taught them how to roof their houses with large leaves similar to the arrangement if its bony scales. A great many African objects are decorated with stylised isosceles triangles, which directly refer to the pangolin’s armour. It is also a pattern used in the scarification of the body. The pangolin is regarded as a sacred animal by the Lega and is never killed. Strict laws guarantee its protection. If an animal does meet with an accidental death, this creates such a ritual disequilibrium that it must be expiated by extensive appropriate rituals and distributions. Thus, pangolins were always found dead by the Lega and never hunted.
Medium
Pangolin, Fibre
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