Mbuti Pygmy Bark Cloth

Before the colonial era bark cloth was the main item of both men and women,s clothing.
Tribe: Mbuti (Pygmy)

Origin: DRC

Approx Age: Late 20th Century

Materials: Bark Cloth

Dimensions cm: 86 x 53

Ref. Number: 0868

£75.00
Description:

An interesting piece of Mbuti Pygmy Bark Cloth from DRC. Before the colonial era bark cloth was the main item of both men and women,s clothing. It is the men who harvest the bark from the fig tree and then also go on to cut and pound the raw material. The pounding would be done using  mallet made of either ivory, bone or wood. Women then carry out the painting of the prepared cloth with rhythmical, free oscillating patterns.

History

The Mbuti use painted bark-cloths, prepared by men and painted by women, as ritual dress for festivals, celebrations and rites of passage, including wedding and funeral ceremonies and puberty initiations. Both the painted bark-cloth that wraps an Mbuti infant at birth, and the bark-cloth tunnel through which young boys are “reborn” during puberty rites, are conceived, like the forest, as a womb (ndu).

Men prepare the bark-cloth from the inner bark of about six different species of trees. It is pounded with an ivory or wood mallet which may be incised with cross-hatch or linear grooves to produce a subtle textured surface. The process yields a supple fibrous canvas of various natural shades of white, tan or reddish brown.

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