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The last Heritage of the Lega, at the Museum of Chinese Art and Ethnography

Exhibit: The last Heritage of the Lega

New exhibit 2017-2018 “The Last Heritage of the Lega” of the Museum of Chinese Art and Ethnography on the Lega african art of Congo, with a collection of statuette ensembles, masks sets, explained by a variety of stories of the Lega people of Congo

Goal and Target

The Museum of Chinese Art and Ethnography presents “The Last Heritage of the Lega”, an exhibit on the Lega african art of Congo, which includes the "Cord of Wisdom", stories of Bwami and Kanyamwa, statues and masks from the people Lega of the Democratic Republic of Congo!
A teaching exhibit for schools and classes.
P. Tam, guardian of the Lega
Fr. Tam, Guardian of the Lega people

P. Tam, Guardian of the Lega people

After a long friendship, Fr. Tam who has shown interest on the Lega objects and symbols, has worked hard to alleviate the suffering of this people during the many wars in the area, gathering traditional rituals which are dear to the Lega area.


The Wisdom Cord

Among the Lega people, a rope or cord was strung in the common house, at the center of the village, as a teaching tool for children. On the rope made of fibers hung objects taken from the world that surrounds the village (vegetables, animals, everyday use) as well as miniatures of tools and figures.

Cord - Mutanga

Our museum exhibit begins with the Wisdom Cord, with 26 revolving tablets which reproduces the meaningful proverbs of the objects hung on the cord.

The tails of the masks and statues

Since the initiation (called “mpala”) involves the use of many ritual objects, the Lega people require an extensive artistic production. The owners and guardians of these ritual objects (Bami and Kanyamwa) show them during the initiation, accompany them with music and dances, represent them with dramas and proverbs.
Corda della Saggezza
Corda della Saggezza

Principles of Conduct

Each object has one or more proverbs, retells a story, recalls an anecdote, to remind the youth the moral principles and wise behavior. The cord is like an open book, where children learn, think and reason on the common ideals of the village life.

Stories of Bami and Kanyamwa

The museum exhibits some assembled masks and objects with short didactic explanations of the stories told by the Bami themselves. These objects are "mediums" between the human weakness and the strength of the spirits; they are symbolic, and therefore they deform reality; more than stories to admire, one must imagine them alive and fleshed out in the reality of Congo.

-  A Story  -

The Hunter and the Red Ants

One morning, a hunter went hunting for the ceremony lunch. He took a lot of game, but not having any hunting companions, he left the game in the forest and returned to the village. When asked by his father "What have you brought home?", the hunter answered: "Today I broght nothing, but tomorrow you will see! I hid them in the forest. Nobody can steal from me what I have hunted."
While father and son talked, a red ant listened to their conversation, and right away ran to warn her companions, who gathered in millions to the place where the animals were killed.
The next morning, the hunter with his wife and many porters went into the forest to recover the loot, but when they arrived there, they were surrounded and attacked by red ants, and they returned to the village empty-handed.
The wise father advised his son: "I told you not to go hunting alone, to have someone with you to help. But since the party has started, kill our chickens and goats."
From that day on, the Bami consume meat from domestic animals for their ritual ceremonies.

The "mwami" Tam:
the one who pays attention to the words of the Bami

One day, 23 bami gathered and conferred on Fr. Tam the title of “mwami” because they witnessed in him an heir of their cultural world. They called him “the one who is attentive to the words of the bami”. One significant gift received during the ceremony is a "hook" that represents the Lega proverb: “where the hand does not reach, the hook will reach”. This is precisely the function entrusted to Fr. Tam: to be the link between the culture of Bami and Europe.

Visiting Times

The Exhibit "The Last Heritage of the Lega" is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9.00am to 2.00pm, for the school year.

Tel. 0521-257.337

Guided School Tours

Your visit will be guided. The museum space is designed for groups of about 20 people (or less), so as to help appreciate and see the exhibits. The same opening hours of the Museum.
Please call 0521-257.337.

African Art of Congo

Collection of Fr. Tam on the Lega african Art, with statuette ensembles, masks sets made of ivory, stone, bone and wood, explained by a variety of stories of the Lega people, one of the 400 ethnic groups who live in Congo.

Previous Exhibit

Creation, Common Good

Mostra 2016