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  • Kuba cloth - Democratic Republic of Congo 87B.01

    Kuba cloth, the result of a laborious process involving many hands, is one of the most famous cultural exports of this dynamic Kuba society.
    The cultivation of raffia palms and the weaving of raffia cloth are traditionally male-dominated activities in Kuba society. The most common form of raffia cloth is a plain woven cloth used as the base for decorated textile production, though other types of raffia cloth are also manufactured for various uses. Cloth is woven by men on inclined, single-heddle looms. When the cloth is first removed from the loom, it is coarse; it is then pounded in a mortar to soften it and prepare it for the surface decoration that is the responsibility of the women.
    In order to begin softening the raffia, the fibres are first stripped and kneaded. Vegetable dyes are then used to colour the strands of the iconic ivory, brown, clay red, and indigo blue of the Kuba kingdom artwork. After that, an inclined heddle loom is used to create a flat-weave textile, which is traditionally done by men. Kuba women are typically responsible for the "finishing" process, which may involve additional dying or kneading. With the help of embellishments like embroidery, appliqués, and patchwork, a velvet-like cut pile fabric can be created.
    It can take several days to complete a single Kuba cloth, which is about the size of a placemat. Larger prestige pieces, made by joining numerous smaller ones, were traditionally used to demonstrate the power and wealth of Kuba kings.

    Please note:  the tear in the fabric due to use as detailed in the images. 

    Size:-  392 cm L x 59 cm W