Yaka Khosi Figure, Democratic Republic of Congo
- Yaka Khosi Figure, Democratic Republic of Congo
- Yaka Khosi Figures were Protective Figures used by individuals, families, or whole communities to destroy or weaken Evil Spirits, prevent or cure illnesses, repel bad deeds, solemnize contracts or oath-taking, and decide arguments. A Diviner or Shaman would activate the Figure, using magical substances. Khosi Figures gained power and were effective because people believed strongly in their power.
- Yaka fetishes known as Khosi support sacred substances containing Life Force. These materials, together with the Figure, assist the prayers and supplications of their owners for protection of harm, sickness or loss. Distinctive facial features of Yaka sculpture include the bisected eyes and upturned noses that are classical in their Masks as well.
- Measurements: 66cm; 26" Height
- Condition: Excellent
- Yaka artists were strongly influenced by their Suku, Nkanu, and Teke Neighbors, and Ritual Healers among those Groups.
- A person can approach a Diviner if they have been wronged, to have a curse placed on the individual that wronged them. Five of the Charm-Curse Institutions use carved figures, including Mbaambi, Ndzasi, Khosi, Mbwoolu-tyso, and Ngoombu. Many of the figures share similar poses such as both hands clutched to the chest, which may refer to a person confessing guilt or swearing secrecy.
- Some Figures also feature headgear worn by Yaka and Suku Leaders. The projecting crests of this Figure are similar to those of a Bweni hat, worn as a Symbol of Authority by Land Chiefs.
- It is also possible this is a Phuungu Figure, a carved human image with packets of sticks, feathers, or bamboo. Usually owned by Head of a Patrilineal Kin Group, the Figure may pass from Father to Son. The need for this kind of Figure is designated by a Diviner. Such Figures functioned to Protect against Witches or other Fearsome Forces within the Community.
- References Cited:
Bourgeois, Arthur P. 1979. "Mbwoolo Sculpture of the Yaka." African Arts 12, no. 3: 58-96.
Bourgeois, Arthur P. 1982. “Yaka and Suku Leadership Headgear.” African Arts 15, no. 3: 30-35+92.
Bourgeois, A. P. 1985. The Yaka and Suku. Leiden: Brill.