Kuba Cloth


The Kuba people of the Kasai and the Sankuru areas are renowned for their raffia woven cloth. These cloths have been used as a form of currency for barter and exchange of goods. When a persons dies, friends and family are expected to give these cloths as gifts to be buried with the deceased. For royal personage, the number of cloths buried can be over 300 pieces. The cloth is very labor intensive to produce as the raffia has to be pounded until the fibers fray and come apart. Man use the individual strands of raffia fibers to weave cloth. It is the women who dyes the raggia fibers with natural compounds and hand sew each raffia thread over the cloth to make the tufts of fibers in order to make the pattern. This technique has been popularly termed as cut velvet. It takes over 1 month to make raffia cloth and the finer the examples with mote intricate and complex patterns can take 2-3 months to make.

Another technique is the intricate and finely details embroidery work sewn onto the raffia cloth. Embroidered  cloths are only used primarily as gifts as they require more time and technical expertise to produce. A still rarer form of Kuba cloth is that made from small pieces of died bark sown and pieced together. The dyed bark are only for ceremonial use and usually reserved for elders and nobility.


Type: Shoowa Textile

Technique: Pounded raffia fibers woven into mat sized square and embroidered with tufts of dyed raffia fibers. Pattern may be sculpted with different height to achieve three dimensional effect.

Color: All organic dyes

Additional information

Weight 48 oz
Dimensions 34 × 23 × 1 in