Elaborately Decorated Yaka Mask 18″ – DR Congo – African Art


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This mask was carved in the style of the Yaka people of DRC. The mask features an elaborately decorated headpiece with beautiful pigment and cowrie shells. It measures 18 inches tall, 38 inches including the raffia, and weighs 4 pounds. There was a previous repair to the nose and general wear and tear throughout. Stand not included but one can be added for an additional fee.

Type of Object


Country of Origin

DR Congo




Wood, pigment, vegetable fiber, fabric and cowrie shells

Approximate Age


Height (Inches)

18" mask | 38" including raffia

Width (Inches)


Depth (Inches)


Weight (Pounds)

4 lbs

Overall Condition

Previous repair to nose. Wear and tear throughout.

Tribe Information

About the Yaka People

“Today, the 300,000 Yaka people live along the Wamba River. They migrated from Angola during the 16th century and settled under the control of the Kongo kingdom. In the 18th century their lands were annexed by the Angola-based Lunda people, but by the 19th century the Yaka had regained their independence. Yaka society is tightly structured and headed by a chief of Lunda origin, the Kiamfu, who delegates responsibilities to ministers and lineage chiefs, Unkwagata. Young men are expected to pass through various initiation stages, including circumcision. The tribe lives principally from hunting, although subsidiary farming is undertaken by the women. Yaka artistic tradition is rich and various, but much of it has been informed by their neighbours - the Suku, the Kongo, the Holo and the Teke. Nevertheless, Yaka statues do have common characteristics- an upturned nose and applied pigments.

Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.

Additional Information

About the Yaka Masks

Yaka masks are worn predominantly during initiation ceremonies related to the Ngoni and the Yiwilla societies. There are different types which correspond to different functions: the leader's mask, known as Mbala, has flared ears and a vegetal- fibre spiked coiffure. The 'ritual expert' male and female masks, called Kakungu, have inflated cheeks and enlarged eyes, while the initiate's mask, known as Kholuka, has a face surrounded by a ridge and surmounted by a vegetal-fibre coiffure which supports figures or animals.”