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Yaka people information


A Yaka people's mask at the Brooklyn Museum.

The Yaka are an African ethnic group found in southwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo, with Angola border to their west. They number about 300,000 and are related to the Suku people. They live in the forest and savanna region between the Kwango River and the Wamba River. They speak the Yaka language).[1][citation needed]

Their oral tradition states that Lunda arrived in Kwango in the 17th century and found people who were part of the kingdom of Kongo.[2] Yaka was a title of honor given to the warriors of the kingdom of Kongo and this word can be found in the following Kongo sentence from the descendants of M'panzu : " « Beto, mayaka mbata; mayaka mpunza, mayaka mbele. »"(Translation: « We, we catch the blows, arrows and swords. » (that the enemies throw at them)).[3][2]

The Yaka people are a matrilineal society that includes patrilineal lineage as family name.[4] Their villages have chiefs, who are recognized by the Congo government as a political office.[5] The Yaka farm cassava, sweet potatoes, and corn as staple source of food, and supplement this with fish and game meat. They have traditionally hunted with the help of hunting dogs.[5] In contemporary times, they are also migrant workers in urban areas.[1]

The Yaka are notable for their arts and handicrafts. They make statues, portraits, baskets, carved objects, masks, tools for cooking, building, hunting, fishing or entertaining with additions of instruments such as drums. Their masks are bulky, distinctive with upturned noses and eyes shaped in the form of globules. These masks were frequently used in various Traditional Religion ceremonies.[1] Their sculptures called mbwoolo and their carved slit drum called mukoku are regionally famous and used in ritual dances.[5]

  1. ^ a b c Yaka people, Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ a b Marc Kapend, Qui est le peuple Muyaka ou Yaka. In: Congo Kinshasa Culture la bibliothèque congolaise de nos jours, 2012, p. 6–11. (In French)
  3. ^ "Les Meres Fondatrices de la Nation Kongo".
  4. ^ Michael Lambek; Andrew Strathern (1998). Bodies and Persons: Comparative Perspectives from Africa and Melanesia. Cambridge University Press. pp. 133–135. ISBN 978-0-521-62737-5.
  5. ^ a b c Yaka: Art and Life in Africa, University of Iowa Museum of Art (2012)

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