Kuba Shoowa Textile

  • Tribe: Kuba
  • Origin: DRC
  • Approx Age: Late 20th Century
  • Materials: Raffia
  • Dimensions cm: 75 x 70
  • Ref. Number: 0878

Beautiful attractive Kuba Shoowa Textile from the Kuba Kingdom DRC. With all the wonderful geometric patterns and design so very typical of these beautiful works of art from the Kuba people. This stunning piece of Kuba art has the word ‘ Beyadm’ on the reverse possibly the name of the person who created this particular textile.

The art of making Kuba cloth is very time consuming and can take several days to form a small piece.  It is the responsisblity of the men first gather the leaves of the raffia tree and then dye it using mud, indigo or substances from the cam wood tree. They then rub the raffia fibres in their hands to soften it and make it easier for weaving.

Image result for kuba loom
Kuba cloth making


After they’ve completed weaving of the base cloth it then becomes the responsibity of the tribes women embroider the woven cloth. They do this by pulling a few threads of the raffia fibres, inserting them into a needle running the needle through the cloth until the fibres show up on the opposite end. They then take a knife and cut off the top of the fibers, leaving only a little bit showing hence creating the cut pile texture.  Doing this hundreds of times forms a design. The designs are seldom planned out ahead of time, and most of the embroidery is done by memory. There are several different sub groups of the Kuba people. Each group has it own unique ways of making the fabric. Some make it thicker, longer, shorter, or with different patches. Each patch is symbolic and many times a piece has many different meanings. When Kuba cloth originated there were probably no patches used, but as the cloth is brittle it is quite likely that the patches were used to repair the frequent tears. Producing such intricate and complex works of stunning Kuba art passing the skill and technic’s down from one generation to another. The more intricate and exuberant the designs are made for the royalty, nobility and chiefdom.