May 4th, 2017
This mask comes from the Yaka people, who live in southwestern Congo in central Africa. Initiation and circumcision are mandatory rituals for all Yaka young men, and are organized in remote locations by the secret societies ngoni and yiwilla. After receiving education in adult responsibilities and sexual behavior, the initiates return to their villages for festivities. This type of mask, which resembles a bird, is used in such celebrations. The masks are carved by the initiates and their teachers specifically for that event and are used only once. This mask is currently on display in Professor Deacon’s Cultural Cabinet.