KUBA SHOOWA TEXTILE 52, 17.5x24", $120, © Tim Hamill
KUBA, SHOOWA TEXTILES, Democratic Republic of Congo
The true jewels of textile art are the small Shoowa cut-pile cloths. Their compex interplay of geometric symbols, inventive rhythm and balance, uniquely individual designs and tight "velvet"surfaces created objects so mysteriously alluring the Kuba people traded them as currency and they were the standard by which a family's wealth and status were judged. These raffia cut-pile cloths, woven by men, were embroidered by women with no stitching visible on the back. Highly prized for their complex patterns, they are further embellished with tight tufting, leading to the nickname "Kasai velvet". They were sewn together for ceremonial dress and covered royal stools. As a sign of status and to provide for the afterlife they were buried with kings or those fortunate enough to own many.
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