The Lega People are an ethnic group living in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These hats serve as “honors,” or “diplomas” awarded to the highest achievers within Bwami – a secret society of elders that govern life ways of the Lega. Bwami members reflect strong, personal character and high achievement. The Lega hat also functions socially as a symbolic bond with one’s ancestors, and moreover, is closely linked to a specific proverb through which principles of Bwami life ways are disseminated to Lega, cultural bearers. These hats are retained as heirlooms to be passed down to successors.
Biebuyck, Daniel P. 1982. “Lega Dress as Cultural Artifact.” Journal of African Arts.
Vol. 15, No. 3.