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Four Yaka Combs
Yaka-Suku Area, South-West Democratic Republic of
Prior to 1937
The four fan-shaped combs have teeth of wood which are separated and bound with dyed vegetable fibre which also forms the striped waisted handle.
Coiffure throughout the whole of Africa has traditionally been of paramount importance for both men and women and the hairstyles that are worn say much about tribal affiliation and status. The dressing of hair is also an important social activity as it is extremely time consuming and requires social co-operation - the hair has to be braided and decorated by another.
Combs are used both to separate and organise the hair and are also worn as part of the coiffure.
Heights from 20 to 22.5 cm (8 to 8.75 in)
Collected by Antoine Autru between 1922 and 1937
Antoine Autru had, since childhood, wanted to work in the Congo and was posted there as a Territorial agent in 1922 until 1937. Sadly, in spite of his encouragement, his wife refused to accompany him as she felt it was too hostile an environment for her.
As well as collecting, he was also an amateur photographer and took many images of local people and their customs.
Hair in African Art and Culture, The Museum for African Art, New York pub. Prestel, 2000 (similar example from Congo P.127 cat.123)
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