About this artwork
In the past, Yaka masks like this example comprising a wooden face with a dome-shaped hairstyle of twigs and cloth appeared in performances marking the end of the male puberty ritual called n-khanda. They embodied the ancestors who watched over fertility and well-being, and celebrated the boys’ reintegration into society as adults after a long period of seclusion at the edge of the village. The masks’ imagery refers to Yaka concepts of cosmogony and sexuality.
- Helmet Mask (Kholuka or Mbala)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Wood, raffia, and pigment
- H. 45.7 cm (18 in.)
- Gift of Neal Ball