Approx Age: Late 20th Century
Dimensions cm: 64 x 60
Ref. Number: 0881
Stunning Kuba Textile showing all the lovely geometric shapes and patterns we have become accustom to seeing from such truly fascinating works of Kuba art. Textile making is very time consuming and can take several days to form a small piece.
It is the responsibility of the men of the Kuba to gather the leaves of the raffia tree and then dye it using mud, indigo or substances from the cam wood tree. 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. They then rub the raffia fibers in their hands to soften it and make it easier for weaving. After they’ve completed the base cloth the women embroider it. They do this by pulling a few threads of the raffia fibers, inserting them into a needle running the needle through the cloth until the fibres show up on the opposite end. They then take a knife and cut off the top of the fibres, leaving only a little bit showing. Doing this hundreds of times forms a design. Designs are seldom planned, most of the embroidery is done by memory. Each group has its own 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. Such intricate and complex works of Kuba art being passed are passed down from one generation to another. The more intricate and exuberant the designs are made for the royalty, nobility and chiefdom.
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