Kuba Shoowa Textile

Kuba Shoowa textile beautifully made and embroidered ritual cloths of raffia.

Tribe: Kuba

Origin: DRC

Approx Age: Late 20th Century

Materials: Raffia

Dimensions cm: 77 x 56

Ref. Number: 0870



Kuba Shoowa textile, with their fascinating patterning with a complex geometry these works of true art are used in a variety of ways which include dowries, shrouds, religious investment, type of currency and as a status symbol. It is a skill and art that has been around for hundreds of years and is taught and has been passed down from generation to generation.


Using the leaves of the raffia tree, the Kuba people of the Congo first hand cut, and then weave the strips of leaf to make pieces of fabric, called raffia cloth. There are several different sub groups of the Kuba people. Each group has different and unique ways to make 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. Later each patch developed a meaning, many patterns are uniquely arranged to tell a story.

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