African art Yaka mask
  • African art Yaka mask
  • African art mask from Kwango
  • Yaka Kwesi mask
  • Yaka dancers with masks

Yaka Kwesi mask

Rare African Kwesi mask from the southern Yaka. Superbly preserved with his bleached face, his beautiful feathered corolla and his thick beard.

Among the southernmost Yaka (from Kasongo Lunda towards Suka-Mbundu (Guillaume Falls) on the Kwango River as far as Kingula and the Kasa chiefdom in the southeast) other masks appear at the end of initiation in addition to the kambanzya mask, namely the masks named kwesi, mbaala, mfumu-n-khanda, lundeemba, tsakala, kiala, mangolo-mbolo, kosi, luhalu and kakoku.

This traditional Kwesi mask, danced during the day when the initiates came out and was the first to perform in the dances.

The mask approaches the chief's wife and bows deeply.

Gifts are given to the masked character but he only dances for a short time, no more than five minutes. Towards the end of the dances, the interpreter of Kwesi will take back the small stick that he inserted into the dance floor at the beginning of the celebration.

In the bodies of African art and masks of the southern Bayaka, there is a marked individualization of particular performances in terms of behavior, backing songs and audience response, different from that of the northern Yaka.

The masked shows are more like those found among the neighboring Chokwe (D.R. Congo and Angola) or the Katundu Pende, who live further east.

This mask was collected in the south of the D.R. Congo at the time of the Belgian Congo (Zaire) and repatriated to Belgium in the 1960s. Supplied with its beautiful high-end support.

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
Mid XXth century
70 cm (95 cm with support)
Ethnic group
Yaka / Bayaka
Wood, accessories
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tribal art collection Belgium

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