Kuba Shoowa Textile

Nice square and geometrically embroidered piece of Kuba Shoowa textile.

Tribe: Kuba

Origin: DRC

Approx Age: Later 20th Century

Materials: Raffia

Dimensions cm: 68 x66

Ref. Number: 1070


Very uniform repeated embroidered pattern involving interlaced linear rectangles. Embroidered on a golden brown background, black raffia thread has been used repeatedly giving the overall design a very symetrical appearance. 


Textiles of the Kuba people are unique in the Democratic Republic of the Congo formerly Zaire, for their elaboration and complexity of design and surface decoration. Most textiles are a variation on rectangular or square pieces of woven palm leaf fibre enhanced by geometric designs executed in linear embroidery and other stitches, which are cut to form pile surfaces resembling velvet. Women are responsible for transforming raffia cloth into various forms of textiles, including ceremonial skirts, ‘velvet’ tribute cloths. In Kuba culture, men are responsible for raffia palm cultivation and the weaving of raffia cloth. Several types of raffia cloth are produced for different purposes, the most common form of which is a plain woven cloth that is used as the foundation for decorated textile production. Men produce the cloth on inclined, single-heddle looms and then use it to make their clothing and to supply foundation cloth to female members of their clan section. The cloth is coarse when it is first cut from the loom, so it is then pounded in a mortar, which softens it and renders it ready for the application of surface decoration, for which women are responsible.

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