230910 - African mukhanda Yaka mask - Congo.
Congo: old African mukhanda Yaka mask.
Hand carved from a single piece of wood, with color pigments and Raffia.
Height: 51 cm x 35 cm.
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.
These masks are carved for initiation and are used only once. The carver (muumbwa) repairs and carves new masks for circumcisions which 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.