Boy's Circumcision Mask (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

20th century
wood, rafia, fiber, paper, pigment
Democratic Republic of Congo
Overall: 16 1/2 × 20 × 13 in. (41.91 × 50.8 × 33.02 cm)
As part of their rites of passage, adolescent Yaka boys go to a special camp where they are circumcised and learn the responsibilities of manhood. Each youth commissions or makes his own mask, which he uses when he and the other initiates return to the village and perform their masks in front of the community. The upturned nose, a Yaka reference to circumcision and potency, is often a source of suggestive joking. It is reported that adolescent Yaka girls tease the young men after circumcision by making comments such as “it hurts when you cut your nose.”
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth L. Adelman
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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