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Yaka Diviner's Slit Gong Nkookwa Ngombo Congo African Art

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Title Yaka Diviner's Slit Gong Nkookwa Ngombo Congo African Art
Type of Object Diviner's Slt Gong
Country of Origin DR Congo
People Yaka
Materials wood, pigment
Approximate Age Second half 20th century
Dimensions 18.75 inches H. x 4.25 inches W.
Overall Condition Good
Damage/Repair crackin head along one side of face and in torso


Additional Information: The Yaka diviner has a position of power within the community. The slit gong is used by the diviner during rites of initiation. They are then used by him when he is posessed spirits and is performing divination rituals. (See a photograph of a Yaka diviner during a ritual in The Metropolitan Museum of Art's "ART AND ORACLE," by LaGamma.) Each diviner has his own slit gong, which incorporates the spirit of the master diviner who was his mentor. "It is the clairvoyance of this ancestor that will direct the novice in his or her own practice, and the slit will serve as the mouth of the oracle's voice when the slitdrum is struck." ("La Gamma," op cit).


Yaka people number approximately 300,000 and live along the Kwango River in the SW Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their neighbors are the Pende. They have a highly developed artistic sense---and they instill beauty and drama in even mundane objects. They are best known for the upturned noses found on initiation masks and diviner's fetishes, but their art can be abstract and vague as well. They sometimes create statues of considerable proportions. Though these normally are used by diviners and healers and are used in various ways and for multiple purposes.There are many wonderful Yaka artworks pictured in scholarly texts and their masks and figures grace the finest museums and private collections. 


Recommended reading: 


Arthur P. Bourgeois, 1984, ART OF THE YAKA AND SUKU
Arthur P. Bourgeois, 1985 The Yaka and Suku, Iconography of Religions VII, D. 1, Institute of Religious Iconography. State University Grogen, Leiden E.J. Brill, pp.1-26


I have examined his piece and agree with the description.


Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.