Yaka initiation mask (Three quarters view)
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Item : Yaka initiation mask, Picture : Three quarters view (approx. 34 Kbytes)


The most important event in the Yaka ceremonial cycle is the initiation of young boys into adulthood. To mark the end of the educational period, festivities are held in which the initiates perform with newly carved masks. Additionally, it showcases the most startling masks and the most spectacular dances.
Initiation mukhanda, that includes circumcision, is a crucial part of Yaka life. Circumcision and initiation, mandatory for all young men, are organized in a remote place called mukhanda-mu-msitu. The rituals are organized by the main secret societies : ngoni and yiwilla.
This mask, called mwelo, was carved for initiation. The carver (muumbwa) repairs and carves new masks for circumcisions who are danced in pairs or groups, except the mask worn by the tutor's leader who dances alone. Masked dancer first asks permission and begs gifts wherever the initiates travel to perform. The ritual expert and his aide, the senior tutor, the sculptor, and the initiates wear different masks. The most common masks (kholuka) are used by initiates and vary greatly. A tutor wears a zoomorphic mask named mpakasa, as this one. During its performance, the mask was held by a handle hidden behind the raffia cloth.
19th or early 20th century.

Object #4357

Origin :

D. R. Congo (Kwango river, southwestern Zaire)

Type :

Masks and headdresses

Ethnic group :

Yaka

Material :

Wood, canvas, raffia, coated cloth, natural pigments, age-old use patina

Size :

H = 12.5 inches

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