In post – Renaissance Europe, Kuba Cloth, the embroidered and appliqué decorated raffia cloth from the Congo (formerly Zaire), entered the curio cabinets and treasuries of kings as well as, nobles the finest representation of African art. More recently, the mastery of Kuba cloths’ abstract patterning was a source of inspiration to artists such as Matisse, who displayed part of his large collection on the wall of his studio.
This textile is tightly woven using strands from raffia palm leaves. Kuba cloth comes in two styles. One has a flat weave with little or no pile while the other has a velvety rich pile. Vegetable dyes are used as colour on the raffia threads and then embroidered onto finished cloth to create patterns such as circles, rectangles, creative curvatures, and lines. Kuba cloth is used for ceremonial skirts, wall hangings, or mats for sitting as well as, sleeping on.
African Textiles such as; Kuba and Shoowa cloth are cultivated and weaved by the men in the tribe. There are several different types of Kuba cloth, all serving a different purpose. Apart from the men harvesting the Kuba cloth, they also prepare it for the looms, and weave it themselves. At first the raffia has a coarse texture when it is removed from the loom. Therefore, it needs to be pounded in a mortar, in order to soften it, for the use of clothing and decorative home use. The latter task is left to the Kuba women to accomplish