Lot 148
  • 148

Yaka Fiber Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo

30,000 - 50,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood, fiber


Pierre Dartevelle, Brussels
Monique Lorré, Brussels, acquired from the above
By descent through the family


Etnografisch Museum, Antwerp, Het Gelaat van de Geesten - Face of the Spirits: Masks from the Zaire Basin, September 18 - December 31, 1993; additional venue:
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., April 20 - September 25, 1994


Frank Herreman and Constantine Petridis (eds.), Face of the Spirits: Masks from the Zaire Basin, Ghent, 1993, p. 53, fig. 17

Catalogue Note

According to Bourgeois (1984: 145-186) there are five types of Yaka and Suku masks. This kambaandzya mask is of the highly cubistic fifth type and constructed of materials without a carved wooden face.  The kambaandzya masks are abstract, but not austere and fashioned with a slight suggestion of an anthropomorphic face and probably originated with the Southern Yaka where the most minimal and abstract masks are found.

Yaka masks were created by sculptors who have a position analagous to blacksmiths in their ability to take matter and transform it. Participating in an esoteric knowledge and practice, the artists can also ritually treat anyone "whose sickness or injury is thought to result from unauthorized contact with or misuse of certain masks" (ibid.: 140-142). 

For a closely related mask photographed in situ by L. Huet between 1896 and 1899 cf. the archives of the Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren (inv. no. "E.PH.4594"), published in Herreman and Petridis (1993: 58, ill. 4).  For a related mask in the Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren see Bourgeois (1984: fig. 129, MRAC inv. no. "31 359", collected before 1929); for another one formerly in the collection of Nelson Rockefeller see ibid. (fig. 174).