Central Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kuba, ca. 1960. A traditional Kuba dance skirt (Tcaka) - handmade from raffia and hand-stitched with immense artistry, presenting bold geometric patterns in warm earth tones: chocolate brown, creamy beige, autumnal orange, and russet red. Such cloths are usually created by Kuba men on a single heddle loom. Next they are embroidered by women and children to create an uncut or cut-pile appearance. Kuba cloths are worn during ceremonial events, especially funerals; however, they are also found in tapestries and home furnishings. The abstract geometric patterns are symbolic of an individual's social and marital status, age, and/or personal attributes or character. This example is particularly exceptional, given that it is made of raffia, demonstrates immense artistry with intricate patterns, skillfully executed weaving, and beautiful hues, and also boasts a generous size and excellent condition. Size: 230" L x 29" W (584.2 cm x 73.7 cm)
There are several theories concerning the inspiration for Kuba style. One theory suggests that the designs in Kuba textiles are rooted in tribal scarification patterns. Another suggests that the motifs of Kuba textiles were modeled upon those found in crop patterns. Still another suggests that the source for their visual patterns was divine intervention. The creation of these ceremonial wraps is a collaborative effort. Men are involved in all stages of preparing the fiber and executing the weaving, whereas women soften the textiles and apply the decoration. These coveted ceremonial textiles are worn during ritual dances and special occasions such as festivals, weddings, funerals, and initiation rites.
Provenance: private Poos collection, Overland Park, Kansas, USA - One of the largest privately held quilt and textile collections in the world, the Poos Collection has evolved over 50 years and through extensive travels to allow for original or point of source acquisition. The collection includes international textiles and garments with an emphasis on West African textiles such as adire, aso oke, kente, and ewe woven prestige cloths.
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Only slight wear. Truly in excellent condition.