Description

Art of the Lega

Elisabeth L. Cameron

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  • Published: 2001
  • Subject Listing: Art History
  • Bibliographic information: 236 pp., 410 illus., 396 in color, 9 x 12 in.
  • Distributed for: Fowler Museum at UCLA
  • Contents

Drawing upon diverse sources, including Daniel P. Biebuyck's seminal fieldwork of the 1950s, Elisabeth Cameron investigates the culture and the art of the Lega peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Among the Lega, art is only created for and used by the Bwami Society. Bwami is a complex organization consisting of multiple levels, and it forms an essential component of the political, social, and religious structure of the Lega.

Within Bwami, artworks are used in conjunction with proverbs, anecdotes, and performances to form complex layered metaphors and to serve as mnemonic devices. As initiates move up through the ranks of the Bwami Society, a variety of different artworks assist them in recalling a vast corpus of complex aphorisms. The many beautiful examples of Lega artworks illustrated in this volume are drawn primarily from the Jay T. Last collection and include masks, animals, human forms, miniature tools, and spoons.
Elisabeth L. Camerion is an assistant professor of art history at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Contents
Forewords
Preface: The Collector's Perspective
Acknowledgments
Introduction
PART ONE: INTRODUCTION TO THE LEGA AND LAYERED METAPHORS
The Lega and Their Environment
The Bwami Society
Rhetoric, Metaphor, and Mpala
Artists and Aesthetics
The Public and the Secret
PART TWO: VISUAL VOCABULARY
Found, Assembled, and Utilitarian Objects
Animal Figures
Human Figures
Lega Masks
Conclusion: The Mythical versus the Real
Appendix
Endnotes
References Cited
Reviews