Kuba Shoowa Textile

Lovely Kuba Shoowa textile having a large pattern/design that is repeated on a smaller scale within the same square of textile.

Tribe: Kuba

Origin: Kuba Kingdom D.R.Congo

Approx Age: Later 20th Century

Materials: Raffia

Dimensions cm: 62 x 51

Ref. Number: 0880


Wonderful Kuba Shoowa textile designed using the interlacing of lines that form an interesting hexagonal pattern within the overall textile. The larger design is repeated but on a smaller scale within the square. Clever use of black raffia thread within triangular shapes that the interlacing creates give an added depth to this fascinating square of Kuba textile.


The people of the Kuba DRC have been weaving the raffia cloth into the ‘Shoowa’ or ‘Kasai Velvet’ for 400 years. To the Kuba people, it is a precious item, used as a currency or gift for visiting tribal chiefs, newly-married couples at a wedding, or grieving families at a funeral. As tradition goes it’s the men who gather and prepare the raffia for cloth and then the women who have the job of dying the thread than creating an embroidery using the geometric patterns and designs sewn on to the raffia cloth. Sewn from memory alone rather than a preset pattern. A combination of interlaced lozenge, rectangles and blocks of colour create these lovely undulating designs. Irregularities characterising textiles such as Shoowa and Kassai velvets and although being described as austere, subtle and monochromatic, they nonetheless have a powerful impact on the viewer.

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