African Art And Lega’S People Legacy

African Art and Lega’s People Legacy Research Paper

Though art is traditionally considered a factor in itself, which exists just for the sake of inspiring new ideas and stretching the viewers’s imagination beyond perception, African art has by no means been devoid of a function; quite quite the opposite, each single component of an paintings created by the representatives of African culture bears its own unique that means. Once these elements are combined, a novel murals is produced, which the famous Lega figure bust is a graphic instance of. Despite the fact that the Lega individuals are not very numerous, their art legacy is actually superb. Incorporating the Lega traditions and philosophy, the given murals not only informs on the fact that the Lega folks had unique morals and values, as well as that within the tradition of Lega people, but special consideration was also paid to persona and the ways in which its numerous traits are manifested by way of facial expressions.

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The Lega artwork piece in query is meant to have both a ritual function and a symbolic which means. Seeing how the mask is manufactured from rather expensive and rare materials, it may be assumed that it was used solely throughout very rare ceremonies – annual celebrations, maybe – and had a somewhat festive which means. Since the mask expression, for the dearth of a greater word, appears somewhat positive, with what appears to be a genuine smile, it can be advised that the mask was utilized within the strategy of performing a sure harvest ritual, or the ritual of worshipping one of the Lega’s gods. Indeed, based on the present researches, the Lega tradition incorporates the weather of a variety of different ones, significantly the Bwami nationality.

As Bravmann explains, the culture of the Lega society blends the weather of the colonial Bwamis and the weather of different African cultures: “it’s via initiation into Bwami, and through the gradual motion by way of the grades of Bwami, that the basic values, moral precepts, and rules of Lega tradition are taught and perpetuate”1. While little or no is understood concerning the purpose of the masks, it’s nonetheless somewhat easy to make assumptions in the given case, for the reason that Lega tradition could be very near a range of other African ones and, due to this fact, its elements are rather much like these of different tribes and nationalities in Africa.

The materials, which the mask is manufactured from, additionally allows for making numerous assumptions relating to not only the aim of the masks but additionally its owner and its general significance for the understanding of the Lega culture. The very act that the complete masks is manufactured from ivory – a really costly and quite rare material, as a matter of reality – is actually astounding. Though one would possibly contemplate the usage of such uncommon and obviously costly materials as an attempt to show off an unnecessary chic and luxurious, the key idea of introducing the viewers to the key rules of the Lega tradition shines through the unimaginable design of this murals. The identical could be said about the remainder of the weather of the masks’s formal description; for instance, in terms of the evaluation of the Lega figurines, a median researcher fails, as a rule, to “elucidate the exact nature of the relationship that he discerns between their forms and the meanings associated with them,”2 Klopper states.

The given problem becomes even more evident as the evaluation of the Lega masks is carried out – not like figurines, which normally have a head and a torso on the very least, the masks is supposed to cowl the face only and, thus, the shapes of Lega masks do not vary that a lot to allow for a full-scale evaluation. Nevertheless, it’s value noting that the masks is prolonged, with a blunt higher edge and a sharper decrease one. Such a form, nonetheless, signifies that the masks is supposed to mimic a human face as a substitute of covering it totally, which signifies that the given artwork may be seen as an try of its creator to strategy the concept of changing the roles which are traditionally assigned to individuals within a selected society or community. Therefore, it could possibly be argued that the given masks could also be viewed as the image of art itself, i.e., the ability of the so-called “form-shifting,” the flexibility to put on a masks and conceal one’s feelings beneath cover of seeming lack of emotion. That being stated, it’s still rather plausible that the masks in query belonged to the member of the Lega community, who was thought of very respectable and really rich, seeing how the masks was manufactured from ivory.

The cultural principles and ideas of the Lega nation and the way by which they’re rendered within the work of art specified above are also very fascinating. The first idea that falls into the eye of the viewer, the apparent metaphor can clearly be thought of the Lega cultural trademark. Being influenced by a variety of different cultures, together with the one of Bwami, the Lega folks have included the experiences, visions, aspirations, and ambitions of their predecessors of their artworks, together with sculptures, graphic art and other types of artworks, masks additionally falling into the class of the objects that are alleged to comprise a spread of hidden innuendoes and messages.

Lega’s capability to mix the elements that may seem incompatible right into a single metaphor in a murals is truly wonderful: “Lega metaphors discover requirements for residing-values and morals, comportment, social and familial relationships, and authorized, ethical, religious, and political codes,”three as Cameron factors out. Particularly within the given art, social metaphors could be traced, especially within the design selections and the shape of the mask. For instance, the material, i.e., the ivory, can be interpreted because the metaphor for the power of the rich and the respected ones, as well as the introduction to the Lega society and its values.

As Ezra stresses, “materials such as gold, powder, scepters, ceremonial canes, weapons, and, of course, headdresses and chairs, are heavily charged with symbolism4. Seeing how the bust is manufactured from ivory, one may argue that the paintings is a symbolic representation of these beholding energy within the Lega community. However, when aiming at portraying the elite of the neighborhood, the artist may also want to drop some hints concerning the integral a part of being wealthy and well-recognized, corresponding to expensive decorations, and so forth. The bust, nevertheless, lacks any indications that it belongs to or represents a powerful and wealthy man – there are no decorations whatsoever. In addition, the facial expression carved into the bust creates an unsettling feeling that the bust was designed to symbolize the value of life.

Another factor of the bust design, the disproportional options deserve being talked about. It is sort of straightforward to notice that the face does not lack symmetry much, yet it’s clearly totally different from the usual methodology of portraying people, even within the Lega tradition; for instance, the nostril seems to be too oblong, and the eyes might sound method too squinty. In addition, the way in which in which the mouth is designed additionally raises a variety of questions, the primary one regarding the that means of the notches on the mouth. These notches could also be interpreted either as teeth, or as stitches, both tying the paintings to the very foundation of the Lega culture and, most significantly, rituals. According to Visona, Poynor, and Cole, the initiation rituals, that are traditionally the main target of a research on Bwami people, presupposes secrecy and restraint, each from the shaman and the individual that is being initiated5. Consequently, it’s crucial that not a single word ought to escape either of the two, which the bared enamel or, presumably, stitches within the mouth of the bust could also be symbolic of.

Every single factor of the bust seems to make a reference to the Bwami society, “a hierarchically graded affiliation to which all Lega women and men aspire to belong,”6 as Clarke clarifies. The concept of a hierarchy, however, is not as express as the two previously talked about ones and may only be noticed in the alternative of the material.

Speaking of the particular person, whom the bust was intended for, one should point out that not one of the existing sources states without a moment of hesitation the purpose and the true that means of the mask. Regardless of the truth that the mask was clearly made for celebrating certain occasions, it is nonetheless unclear whether the bust was alleged to be in possession of the honorable members of the tribe, the shaman, the chief, or some other member of the ancient representatives of the Lega group. It could be assumed, though, that the masks in query was supposed to be kept by a shaman or some other member of the community, who is taken into account wealthy and powerful sufficient to have an effect on the future of its other members. It may also be assumed that the bust was owned by the chief, principally because of the fact that it was made of such an costly material. The causes for having the bust around, nevertheless, aren’t quite clear in this case.

One of the many busts created by the Lega artists, the one underneath dialogue just isn’t merely an artifact; not like other artworks, which don’t have any actual purpose and primarily serve as a method to convey the artist’s private beliefs and convictions, the Lega bust in the picture above is full of a secret meaning and is, in fact, designed to show the peculiarities of the Lega culture and traditions. Through deciphering its which means and function may be difficult, the Lega bust within the image above is clearly more than a token component of the African culture. Instead, it serves as not solely the representation of the Lega culture morals and values but also because the link between different African cultures, seeing how it incorporates the elements which are typical for most of them.


Bravmann, Rene. “Lega Culture: Art, Initiation, and Moral Philosophy among a Central African People by Daniel Biebuyck.” African Arts 7, no. 3 (1974): eighty two–84. Web.

Cameron, Elisabeth. “Art of the Lega: Meaning and Metaphor in Central Africa.” African Arts 35, no. 2 (2002): forty four–sixty five, 92. Web.

Clarke, Christa. “A Personal Journey: Central African Art from the Lawrence Gussman Collection.” African Arts 34, no. 1 (2001): 16–35, ninety three. Web.

Ezra, Kate. “Contemporary African Art by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir.” African Arts 34, no. 1 (2001): 11–12, ninety three. Web.

Klopper, Sandra. “Speculations on Lega Figurines.” African Arts 19, no. 1 (1985): 64–sixty eight, ninety four. Web.

Visona, Monica B., Poynor, Robin and Herbert M. Cole. A History of ART in Africa. London, UK: Pearson Education, 2007: 414-416. Web.


1 Rene Bravmann, “Lega Culture: Art, Initiation, and Moral Philosophy amongst a Central African People by Daniel Biebuyck,” African Arts 7, no. 3 (1974): 83.

2 Sandra Klopper, “Speculations on Lega Figurines,” African Arts 19, no. 1 (1985): sixty four.

3 Elisabeth Cameron, “Art of the Lega: Meaning and Metaphor in Central Africa,” African Arts 35, no. 2 (2002): 50.

4 Kate Ezra, “Contemporary African Art by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir,” African Arts 34, no. 1 (2001): 11.

5 Monica B. Visona, Robin Poynor, and Herbert M. Cole, A History of ART in Africa (London, UK: Pearson Education, 2007), 414.

6 Christa Clarke, “A Personal Journey: Central African Art from the Lawrence Gussman Collection,” African Arts 34, no. 1 (2001): 31.





Type Research Paper
Pages 6
Words 1657

Art Movements
Language 🇺🇸 English

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