Yaka Wooden Janiform Sculpture

SKU PF.3407

20th Century AD


42.5″ (108.0cm) high x 11″ (27.9cm) wide




Southwestern Congo/Angola

Gallery Location



The Yaka tribe is a matrilineal society. Among the Yaka, men are responsible for hunting while women cultivate a variety of crops. Many Yaka figures are made to hold ingredients from nature to give them power. Serving as protective devices, some have internal cavities to hold the powerful preparations, while others are hung with charms. This fascinating wooden fetish figure seems to be the second type of sculpture, holding power with various hanging charms. Two figures are joined back to back, connected by the double-sided helmet headdress and fetish items tying the arms together. The figure with the smaller face holds a pipe to his mouth and the other figure with the larger face has his fingers on his chin. The depiction of a pipe is a historical clue about European influence during British Colonial period in Zaire. The figures' wrists are enhanced with cloth bracelets and small pouches decorated with feathers and twigs are tied to the upper arms. The waistband is also decorated with braided fibers and nutshells. Such marvelous sculpture, most likely a deity, seems to hold mysterious and important significance that only the creator of it can explain. The skillfully carved faces seem peaceful and serene, each feature radiating with graceful curvatures of the polished surface. Full of fascinating features, this figure does not cease to amaze our eyes.

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