Early 20th Century Yaka Initiation Mask, D. R. Congo.

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An early 20th century Yaka initiation mask from the Dominican Republic of Congo.

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. It showcases the most startling masks and the most spectacular dances. During its performance the mask was held by a handle hidden behind the raffia cloth. These masks are carved for initiation and are used only once.

This example has a conical hat-like top meticulously carved from a single piece of wood, with downturned eyes and upturned nose. A thin suede material covers the back of the mask. The internal hole originally made for the holding handle is visible to the interior; the wooden display stand provided with the piece inserts into this hole perfectly, discreetly holding the mask upright. 

There is a small loss to the top rear of the piece (please see photographs) but this does not distract from the presence of this piece. It has an outstanding colour throughout and displays extremely well. 


Height: 62.5cm

Diameter: 21cm (approx)



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