Arts & Culture

Kuba Cloth

Kuba textiles have been designed and handcrafted for hundreds of years by the Kuba ethnic group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Crafting techniques have been passed down from generation to generation, and fabrics are still in production today.

Weaving is of paramount importance to the people of Kuba, and weaving forms the basis of royal dress, thereby expressing the state of wealth, hierarchy, and personal transition.

Traditionally woven for use as a wraparound skirt at ceremonial festivals and performances, the main material used to compose the fabric is fibers extracted from the palm of the raffia. The skirt is sash-fixed and is usually worn over a plain red or cream embroidered skirt and is considered unisex garment.

The fabric is unique in its surface decoration, design elaboration, and the general complexity of textile construction.

Good fabrics are decorated with linear embroidery and cypraea shells and seed attachments. Patching different fabrics and designs together with appliqué holes is another technique of decoration, as well as creating areas of the cut pile surface and making tight bobbles from fringe raffia.

Some of these fabrics are up to 20 feet long, while others are 2 feet square rectangles that hang behind the throne of the throne, hang on the altar, and can be used as a bed.

There is also a technique of waving the edges to improve the movement of the festive dance by sewing reeds on the edges of the cloth.

Throughout his life, men collect and preserve inherited Kuba cloth, celebrate their social status and enhance their funeral status.


After migrating south between the 16th and 17th and 20th centuries, the Kingdom of Kuba (also known as the Kingdom of Bakuba or the Kingdom of Buchongo) was one of Africa’s most extensive and powerful societies, with ivory and rubber. I was trading. Southeastern part of the current Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The kingdom culminated in the mid-19th century.

The area was adjacent to the Sankuru, Lulua and Kasai rivers, which are rich in art and art. Make carved boxes, palm cups, helmet masks, figurines, beadwork and, of course, textiles.

Back in the early 17th century, the central government of the region was collecting textiles in the form of compliments to expand the treasury. The 1884 Wisman expedition to the Kasai River region first reported the existence of these excellent fabrics, but it is noteworthy that the Bakuba tribe has long resisted exchanging products in trade with imported fabrics. Worth

The first practical attempt to document the material culture of the Kasai people was made by Emil Torday in the early decades of the 20th century, when he and his associates at the British Museum “told Raffia’s cut pile cloth.Kasai velvet“As a point of reference.

This work above is one of the oldest in the collection and can be found at the Baltimore Museum of Art in the United States. It is dated somewhere between 1736 and 1799 (carbon test).

The elaboration of Kuba cloth can be used to track the rise and fall of the kingdom, but there are still 19 different ethnic groups, presided over by the monarch (nyim). Kot-a-Mbweeky III A person who has been on the throne since 1968.


The Showa tribe introduced cut-pile embroidery into the Kingdom of Kuba after being incorporated into a centralized state in the mid-17th century. This technique is highly specialized and time consuming. The design is sewn onto the cloth, then the raffia fibers are pulled with a needle and cut with a knife to create a dense pile that allows for a stuffed animal. velvet-Effects that are created.

Showa The fabric is primarily rectangular in shape and features strong geometry and strongly contrasting colors, usually cream, ocher or ocher … and black.

Shoowa’s design is completely abstract, based on a complex set of symmetries.

Details, Shuwakurosu, Hamil GullDetails Shoota, Hamill Gall

This stunning Shuwa fabric features an unusual asymmetric geometric design. There are also stitches, cut pile raffia and natural dyes. The fabric under the ocher and black textiles is characterized by bright colors. Orange and purple plum.


The raffia fibers used in the production of Kuba textiles are woven only by men on a loom with a 45 degree angle. It always requires great skills and physical stamina to work on your head.

Weave Raffia textiles on a 45 degree loomWeave Raffia textiles on a 45 degree loom

On the production side, there are two main types of kuba dough, both of which use raffia palm.

First, the cut-pile tapestry fabric (shuwa) that you have already seen, then the strip-woven appliqué fabric, and the appliqué design are sewn together and sewn together to make the final product (long wraparound skirt). Tribal men are responsible for growing, cutting, collecting and dyeing fabrics using substances from indigo, mud, especially camwood trees. twool And the color is red.

Raffia fibers are rubbed by hand to soften them, weave them, and then weave them onto the cloth on a sloping single-headed loom.

When removed from the loom, the dough is still rough, mortared and relaxed, ready for women to finish the surface.

Women create textile decorations, create cut pile sections, apply surface design details, apply contrasting colors on the base cloth to create abstract geometric designs, and then build garments I am in charge of the time-consuming process of doing. Cloths … hats, wraps, belts, ceremonial skirts, trade cloths, etc.

There is much to be learned from the design and color of Kuba cloth, such as social status, age, marriage history, and wearer’s personality.

Design, color, decoration

Henri Matisse Studio with Cuban cloth to decorate the wallsHenri Matisse Studio with Kuba Cloths to decorate the walls

French Impressionist Henri Matisse Cuba A cloth to decorate the walls of his studio, as seen in the historic photo above. Sitting beside his cutout, their graphics, geometric shapes and abstract patterns intrigued him and provided a source of inspiration.

He is said to be sitting and staring at them “waiting for something to come to me from instinctive geometry.”His 1947 paper clipping Revelor It was reportedly influenced by Kuba’s appliqué.

There are four components that make up the uniqueness and peculiarity of each Kuba cloth.

Various styles of Kuba cloth, Ignoti
  • When was it made?
  • The purpose for which it was designed
  • Raw material availability
  • Level of human skills and expertise

All of these are factors in determining what the work will look like in the end. Especially beautiful and perfected Kuba cloth can be directly linked to the strengthening of hierarchy and political authority. The dramatic impact of its design is the key to visually solidifying its superiority.

In fact, there are more than 200 traditional patterns (hexagons, rectangles, squares, chess, triangles, and other sequences of configurations) that are passed down from generation to generation. In production, basic designs are rarely pre-created, and patterns are created from memory and repetition. Geometric patterns that are mainly linked to motifs and patterns. But it explains the more abstract design that exists on some fabrics, and sometimes the fascinating asymmetry.

The other piece is an asymmetrical red and pale gold wraparound cloth with a contrasting checkered design, a cowley shell embroidered with a cross pattern, strips of kuba of various widths sewn with patchwork, and cuts. Shows the final function of pile embroidery. Natural dye colors of tan and gold and dark amber.

There are two aspects to textile coloring: those made with a palette of natural vegetable dyes and those made with synthetic dyes. The latter has a more rigorous, bold and cheerful personality.

Traditionally, dyes are made from natural materials, red from ebony or camwood, yellow from brimstone wood, black from plant sources and mud, and white from the mineral kaolin.

Light colors (like the blue of the cloth here) are derived from synthetic sources.

Twool Is a red vegetable dye from camwood trees that can be mixed with palm oil to create a gel-like substance that is applied to decorate the face and body for ceremonies.

Kuba applique cloth, red, black, ocher dyesKuba applique cloth, red, black, ocher dyes

The red color is important in Kuba culture. Recognized as beautiful and powerful, it is used for funerals, death ceremonies, and important events.

A more gloomy palette of natural raffia (cream), raw and dark amber, and charcoal also exists alongside the more common ocher, ocher, red, and dark brown.

Below you can see the number of African textiles used in decorative cushions.Baqubah, Showa, Pygmy MbutiBambara tie dye and mud cloth .. All use natural vegetable dyes in earth tones.

Decoration-Surface decoration, borders, sashes

The fabric may remain in its natural state and be completely covered with decoration. It may also be dyed and partly uncovered to assess the dyed color or effect.

Cloth decorations include raffia thread stitching, cut pile velor, cowley shell and seed sewing, cutout shape decorative appliqués, cutout shapes, beads, raffia fringes and raffia bobbles. All of this enhances the importance and appeal of the work.

Dance regalia decorations include the addition of hats, skin and fabric sash belts, necklaces, beads and animal tooth arm and ankle bracelets.

These three Kuba bands date back to the early 20th century and were brought to Belgium in 1934. Created as a border for skirts worn by royal members and other senior officials, it features Raffia’s cut pile technique and demonstrates both natural and natural use.

Masquerade and festive dance

The image above shows a spectacle and drama created by a dancer in full regalia. There are all accessories for meters and meter overskirts wrapped around the waist. The dancer has a carved cane, horns, and tail hair whisk.

Modern Kuba

From the exhibition in New York, photographer John Edmonds explores the theme of African diaspora’s modernity and identity, using Kuba cloth and other African objects to explore new aesthetic and conceptual possibilities. Offers.

Kuba textiles continue to provide an exciting starting point for contemporary art and culture, including this stunningly dramatic outfit designed by Jurgen Rose for the Metropolitan Opera.

Designed properly for the role of King mark Wagner’s “Tristan and Iseult“The Celtic symbols on Kuba textiles are reminiscent of the medieval times on which opera was based.

Modern Kuba
Decoration and fashion,

For textile lovers, Kuba textiles make great wall hangings and soft furniture. Each cloth is unique and provides an element of substance and interest in the environment.

Textile designer Love Kuba cloth! They can be dramatic or subtle, and that’s their beauty.

The unusual creative texture of textiles using textiles for lighting adds to the appeal when lit up.

Blanket Throw is a print design using Kuba cloth as a source, the interpretation is graphic, but the coloring is real.

Here, the very exquisite pieces of appliquéd Kuba cloth act like pieces of abstract walls, creating a dramatic effect on the house. The simple and modern way of hanging textiles completes the modern look.

The following introduces Kuba’s graphic interpretation for printing, but this time we’re using more fashionable colors to track trends and create excitement.

The combination of shape and color makes a dramatic garment.

All types of original bag fabrics are especially suitable for bags and handbags.Durable and beautiful tapestry texture when combined with leather Shuwa Be especially appropriate.

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