Yaka (Bayaka), Democratic Republic of the Congo
Yaka kholuka ceremonial mask. The Kwango River area (southwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) is the home of some 300,000 highly artistic Yaka people. Yaka or yakala means males, the strong ones, thus Bayaka, the strong people. The men traditionally practiced hunting, while the women cultivated manioc, yams, peas, pineapples and peanuts. The masks are the work of a sculptor who carries out his art well away from the initiation enclosure, also separated from the view of other villagers. The sculptural composition of this mask is typical of Yaka works. The face and bodyfeatures are painted with bright colors on white background. The ensemble is framed by the sizeable mass of raffia fiber, this surmounted by a hat made from armature of branches covered with a resin-coated tissue. It is topped with a figure of a bird. The whole mask refers to the power of the elders and their predecessors. Generally such masks were used only once.
Material: wood, branches, tissue, resin
Size: H. 30, W. 12, D. 15