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Kuba Raffia Textile Red Handwoven 11 Feet African Art

Regular Price: $850.00

Special Price: $490.00

Product #: 52881
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Title Kuba Raffia Textile Red Handwoven 11 Feet African Art
Type of Object Textile
Country of Origin DR Congo
People Kuba
Materials Raffia
Approximate Age Mid/second half 20th century
Dimensions 140 x 32 inches
Overall Condition Fair to Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair small holes and rips in places, discoloration, stains, repairs and cuts in small places.

We do not recommend laundering textiles, and do not accept returns of textiles which have been laundered in any manner.  Even dry cleaning is too much for some of these antique textiles.  For some of them, a very gentle HAND washing  (NEVER MACHINE, on any setting)  in cool water with a very gentle detergent works, but even then, dyes may not be colorfast, and fabric may be less strong than it appears.

Additional Information: This is a magnificent raffia textile from the Kuba, from the Kuba Kingdom, which is in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire. This red appliqued  textile is is a multi-panel skirt (Ntshak), worn wrapped multiple times around the waist. On this textile the strips are sewn on using a machine. In addtion, this offered  textile is signed !

This textile is made by both men and women. Men did the weaving, women did the dying and embroidery. Raffia, which comes from the raffia palm tree, is notoriously difficult to work with. Soaking and pounding were both used to soften the fibers. Each piece took months to make.

 Kuba textile of this quality are becoming rare. This one will be a central piece in any collection of African textile.

I have written a book on them. See Elizabeth S. Bennett and Niangi Batulukisi Ph.D., Kuba Textiles & Design , AfricaDirect Inc., 2009, 41 pages. 28 full color photographs, paperback

The following are excerpts from Kuba Textiles and Design :

"In sub-Saharan Africa, where representative art has flourished for centuries, carvers and crafts people have typically taken for their subjects human figures, animals, plants, and elements of the natural world. Abstract art, meanwhile, has remained marginal. The textiles of the BaKuba (Kuba) people of the Democratic Republic of Congo are an exception. Although part of a tradition that stretches back 400 years, Kuba textiles have a strikingly modern look. They use improvised systems of signs, lines, colors, and textures, often in the form of complex geometric rectilinear patterns. Their appliqués are reminiscent of works by 19th- and 20th-century masters like Matisse, Picasso, Klee, Penck, and Chellida. This is no coincidence: all of those artists were inspired by Kuba design!"

"Appliqué is the most popular weaving technique among the Kuba. To create an appliqué, Kuba artists use a stencil to cut decorative designs out of a brightly colored cloth, and then sew or apply the designs onto a cloth of a different color. The designs are then placed on top of yet another cloth. Through this process, the artist has the freedom to create an almost unlimited variety of patterns and combinations."

"The most familiar appliqués are dark brown or black on an ecru background, a pattern which is sometimes seen in reverse. Other popular appliqués are red or yellow, or are placed on a red or yellow background. Appliqués can also be natural-on-natural (or occasionally red-on-red). The black-on-neutral embroidery which resembles an elaborate maze is the work of the Ngeende or Ngoongo."

"Many European and American collectors have noted the striking similarities between Kuba appliqués and Matisse’s dancing figures. One surviving photograph shows Matisse in his bedroom, surrounded by Kuba textiles—an indication of how deeply he was influenced by Kuba design."

Recommended Reading: 

Elizabeth S. Bennett and Niangi Batulukisi Ph.D., Kuba Textiles & Design , AfricaDirect Inc., 2009, 41 pages. 28 full color photographs, paperback.

I have examined this piece and agree with the description.
Niangi Batulukisi, Ph.D.