Yaka Headrest

This headrest, called a musaw by the Yaka, was placed under one ear and along the chin to support the head during sleep

Yaka Musaw Headrest

Tribe: Yaka

Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo

Approx Age: 1920-30s

Materials: Wood

Dimensions cm: 26 long x 15 tall

Ref. Number: 1820


A lovely and old Yaka headrest depicting an animal, great characteristics and style. This headrest, called a ‘Musaw’ by the Yaka, was placed under one ear and along the chin to support the head during sleep; it could, more rarely, be placed behind the neck. These headrests were both functional and spiritual objects, primarily used by chiefs and dignitaries to preserve their intricate hairstyles during sleep.


  Heinz-Werner Fusbahn (1905-1958, Stuttgart/Basel) und Margaret Fusbahn-Billwiller (1907-2001, St. Gallen/Sintra).
– Erben Heinz-Werner Fusbahn.
– Galerie Walu, Basel.


A nice dark brown patina, left rear leg has been repaired a long time ago.

Margaret Fusbahn and Heinz-Werner Fusbahn

“…Margaret Fusbahn was born Rosa Margaretha Billwiller on July 14, 1907, in St.Gallen and grew up in a wealthy merchant family on Rosenberg. At the age of 20, she married the German engineer Heinz-Werner Fusbahn. Margaret was one of a handful of Aviation pioneers who set out to conquer the skies during the interwar period.

Margaret Fusbahn became known worldwide when she succeeded in breaking the international altitude record for class C light aircraft in April 1930. …. She takes part in numerous flight competitions. Her husband Heinz-Werner is infected by her passion for flying and also acquires the brevet. They are known as the “flying couple”. In 1932 they fly to Ethiopia for the first time. After that, Heinz-Werner flies to Africa every year – without his wife. In 1938 Margaret Fusbahn divorced…”

Excerpt from “Pioneers: “The flight is worth life” by Christina Genova, published on October 24th, 2017, available on tagblatt.ch.

Photo to the right:

Biteke (Yaka figures) for the treatment of a hereditary curse, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1976. Photo by Arthur Bourgeois.

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