This page is a record of an exhibit that took place
in 1994. The individual links below will take you to
the CURRENT VERSION of the pages
that formed part of that exhibit.
Our Yaka Sculpture exhibition shows an unusually expressive range of
traditional masks, fetish figures, slit drums, whisks and post sculptures
of the Yaka, "the strong ones", from Zaire. Their masks, used
in initiation ceremonies, are polychromed, with heavy raffia collars and
strong features. Varied superstructures include figures, animals, horns
or twigs abstractly covered with cloth and painted. The masks (and figures)
include many from the Western Yaka, with their exaggerated and bizarre features,
most notably an upturned nose.
Protective fetish figures abound, in a variety of sizes and styles. Most are Khosi, holding ingredients from nature to give them power and are hung with charms or amulets of horns, shells, twigs, feathers, herbs, fibers and fur. Several combine male and female in one figure creating the mythological primordial being from whom man and woman evolved. Others, known as Phuungu, have torsos wrapped like a Christo sculpture with cloth until almost spherical, hiding their magic. All the fetishes seem quite spiritual, for they gained their power among the Yaka because the people believed in them.
Slit drums or gongs, with heads on top, figurative fly whisks used by warrior chiefs and symbolic log or post sculptures, honored in special sacred huts or enclosures, complete this complex and expressive show.