Kuba N’Chak Dance Skirt

Beautiful and old Kuba dance skirt known as an N’chak, from the Kuba kingdom of DRC

Tribe: Kuba

Origin: Kuba Kingdom D.R.Congo

Approx Age: Early 20th Century

Materials: Raffia

Dimensions cm: 177 (longest point) x 60

Ref. Number: 1069


Lovely early 20th century Kuba dance skirt. The inner section is made with a red embroidered raffia giving a depth of pile, bordered by three pieces of again well-embroidered textile. The design showing an interlaces pattern created in a black raffia. One side has a slightly longer strip for the use of tucking in. The whole skirt is edged with red embroidery which pulls all the colours within this textile together. A lovely piece of Kuba textile/clothing.



The Nchak for ordinary day to day wear is usually a white and red garment worn wrapped around the lower body and held at the waist or beneath the breasts by a folded band of cloth or a belt made of twisted multi-strand fibre. Nchak usually consists of two or three raffia panels. During ceremonial dances, Nchak worn by women are considerably longer than those in every day wear. However today Nchak are made up of square or rectangular pieces of cloth sewn together lengthwise and assembled in such a way as to show off the unity of the panels or of their lateral movement, which is accented either by the use of alternating panels dyed red or black, or by sewing together panels of different dimensions.

Amazingly though, the patterns, no matter how complicated, are never actually marked on the mats. Instead, the women keep the design being worked in their mind, anticipating the colour changes needed to complete the design. Not marking the textile with a pattern, is of course one of the most amazing aspects of Kassai velvet cloth production. Many Kuba cloths are made in smaller pieces and are then sewn together to be used in the creation of garments. Indeed it is the usually the mans garment that is made up of two or occasionally three rectangles or almost square pieces of cloth with a border measuring between two to six inches. Sizes of cloth pieces depending on the size of the loom and the size of the person operating the loom. When sewn together for usage in garment creation, these costumes constitute an expression of wealth. They are used in dowries and as currency, and are sometimes given in large quantities to the dead during funeral ceremonies. The best examples are quite costly and seldom, if ever, used for what we might term as everyday wear.

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