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Kuba Square Textile Raffia Handwoven Congo African Art

Regular Price: $39.00

Special Price: $22.00

Product #: 114503
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Title Kuba Square Textile Raffia Handwoven Congo African Art
Type of Object Handwoven Textile
Country of Origin Democractic Republic of Congo
People Kuba
Materials Raffia palm fibers, dyes
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 18.5 Inches
Width: 18.5 Inches
Overall Condition Poor. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair some stains and minor fraying; see pictures for detail.


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: 


The following are excerpts from Kuba Textiles and Design, by Elizabeth S. Bennett and Niangi Batulukisi Ph.D.:

"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!"

"The most commonly known of the Kuba textiles are the cut-pile Shoowa or Kasai Velvets, named after the river along which the BaKuba live. Improvisation and irregularity characterize the Kasai Velvets. This is because the weaver works without a plan or preliminary sketching, though the model can occasionally be displayed on the cloth in advance using black thread. Often the design is built up from memory, repeating the most common designs and color combinations found in the region. The message conveyed is up to the artist, who is the only one who can explain what he or she intended to represent."


"Originally Kasai Velvets were used as currency, and were valuable products for trade and exchange. They could be included in the tribute villagers paid annually to the King, in the dowries of matrimonial exchanges, and in funeral gifts and offerings to the dead. They also served to embellish the royal court, cover the royal thrones, and decorate the King’s palace wall. Colonial agents and missionaries arriving in the Kuba Kingdom in the nineteenth century were fascinated by the Kasai Velvets, and encouraged women to produce more of them to adorn religious vestments for Catholic missionaries and decorate the interiors of European houses."


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