Kuba textile, hand cut, woven strips of palm leaf to make pieces of fabric, them embroidered with geometric design.
Approx Age: Late 20th Century
Dimensions cm: 62 x 62
Ref. Number: 0875
Kuba textile, the art of making Kuba cloth is very time consuming and can take several days to form a small piece. The men first gather the leaves of the raffia tree and then dye it using mud, indigo or substances from the camwood tree. They then rub the raffia fibres in their hands to soften it and make it easier for weaving. After they’ve completed the base cloth the women embroider it creating the wonderful patterns with geometric design.
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 fiber 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, headdresses and basketry.
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. This stunning piece of Kuba art is lucky enough to have a name Vokis on the reverse side. Quite possibly the makers name?
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