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Object Name: Mask (kholuka)
Culture: Yaka peoples
Place of Origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Date/Era: Early 20th century
Dimensions: H: 75.0 cm, W: 45.0 cm, D: 50.0 cm (H: 29.5 in, W: 17.7 in, D: 19.7 in)
Medium/Materials: Wood, polychrome pigment, fiber
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. The Jerome L. Joss Collection.
Accession Number: X83.978
This mask is one of several varieties that were danced in festivities marking the emergence of young Yaka men from their initiation camp. For one to three years, boys were secluded from women in initiation camps where male elders taught them about their roles as adult men in Yaka society. Essentially benevolent and celebratory in nature, Yaka masks were worn on the head or held before the face only momentarily, as dance wands. In this mask, the child attempts to wrest a pipe from its mother, apparently an allusion to one’s eagerness to assume adult privileges.
Source: Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006.
See also: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014.