The features of this Kela, Yela mask are concentrated in the lower half of a face in which the ample rounded volume of the forehead stands out. Wide colored grooves enhance the curves. Narrow crinkled eyes and a thin mouth contrast with a strong hooked nose. Polychrome matte patina. Desication erosions and cracks.
The province of Lualaba had several close ethnic groups with similar associations. The Mbole and the Yela, Kela, are known for their statues embodying, according to D. Biebuck, hanged men, named ofika. The lilwa , an association with dogmatic initiation rites, used to judge and condemn to hanging those guilty of breaches of the imposed rules. These offenses ranged from murder to adultery to breaking the secrecy surrounding the lilwa. Dishonored, the bodies of the condemned enjoyed no funeral and were buried in the forest.
It was during the end of initiation ceremonies, presided over by a notable isoya, that these statues were exhibited, presented lying on a litter.
In addition to this type of figure, the Yela carve effigies of ancestors.
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