Kuba Cloth

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To purchase a Kuba cloth, contact African Woodsmoke directly. Serious inquiries only, please.

Our Kuba cloth is authentic and comes directly from Congo. Kuba is woven from the fiber of the Raphia Vinifera Palm. You will notice a few holes in the cloth but this is natural and is part of the design. The cloth is extremely beautiful and very hard to find. It can be used as a wall hanging, a runner on a table, as place-mats, or as a collectable antique. We only have a few currently in stock but are always on the search for more.

Kuba cloth is a very special cloth made by the Kuba people in the Sankuru District of Congo. The men first create the basic unit of the Kuba cloth called Mbal; which is a plain square of undecorated Raphi cloth that is woven by men on a loom. The raffia has been dyed with mud, vegetables, and substances from the Camwood tree. The Mbal is then pounded on a mortar to soften the cloth because it is initially very hard. You may notice a few small holes in the Kuba cloth, this is a normal part of the design and is a sure sign of an original Kuba cloth. The women then decorate the cloth using many different designs, materials, and techniques. There are about 200 different designs that are known by name; each design is still unique because the artisan will leave his distinct improvisation of the original design. The designs are done mainly by the women and can take up to a month to complete. The Kuba cloth designs have been the inspiration for many famous artists over the years, such as: Picasso, Klee, and Matisse who all owned a collection of Kuba cloth.

Kuba cloth is traditionally used for ceremonial dances such as funerals and weddings. When you reach the afterlife it is very important that you are wearing the correct Kuba cloth so that your ancestores will recognize you. The Kuba designs have been handed down from generation to generation which has kept the skill of Kuba weaving alive. The designs represent age, marital status, and family hierachy to name a few. Each piece of the cloth tells a unique story and can be interpreted by the people of Congo.