Nov
01
2010

A Piece Of Kuba Cloth Is Moving In With Me

Happy new week friends. For those of you celebrating Halloween, I hope you were booed royally this weekend!

Last week I asked for some help regarding a very handsome piece of fabric that I have seen a little here and there in the design world without knowing what it was. Actually the first time I saw it was at Peet’s coffee house in Redmond, WA, close to where we live. I remember staring at a few of these framed beauties and really enjoying the pattern. Look closely at a very similar cloth panel in the frame above the white sofa. Pretty isn’t it?

Well, a few terrific readers came to my rescue. Arlene (Thank you so much!) wrote: “I framed a piece for my husband’s office, and they are not hard to come by.  A little less common are the full pieces of Kuba, which come in very long lengths and are worn as wrap skirts. I have a couple, and I adore them. I keep one draped on a bench, and I have a 10-footer, framed, which takes up a wall in my dining room. They will range in price from $200 to $20,000, depending on age, ornamentation, etc.”

Ahaa! Kuba Cloth. Now it had a name. (I feel I should have known it already). I did some more research. And I found out that the particular cloths I am looking at are also called Kuba skirt panels

Artists from Paul Klee to Henri Matisse have been inspired by the geometric motifs of the Kuba people from Congo, Africa. Textiles are considered the highest form of decorative art among the Kuba people. The Kuba cloth is believed to be ancient, the oldest surviving samples of the cloth date back to the seventeenth century. Men weave the fabric out of raffia fibers and women apply the designs.

The handmade fabric is woven into panels and then decorated with one or more of dozens of geometric patterns. Long pieces are termed skirts and usually decorated with applique and embroidery. These skirt panels (which I am looking at) are single panels of dress/skirt wraps used by the Kuba tribe women and men in dance ceremonies.

Shorter pieces are most often created with a combination of cut pile and embroidery (looks like tufts of velvet). The velvet panels are referred to as Kuba “Shoowa panels”. The Kuba Shoowa panels are used as a form of currency or display of wealth.

My blog friend Lana, (who’s taste and friendship I so respect) from Cape Town, also chimed in. She even sent me these pictures of Kuba cloths from her parents lovely home. She took the pictures this weekend at her Mom’s birthday party! How special & generous is that! Thank you so much Lana. It made my post so much more real!

Here are some images from the design world with objects of Kuba cloths or in Kuba-fabric style.

Over the weekend, I spent a chunk of time in front of my screen finding that special piece for my own home — and here is a great candidate! I am thinking this skirt panel (from Hamill Gallery of Tribal Art) might be moving in with us very soon! The panel measures approx. 21 x 26 inches. I have never been to Congo, the only place I have been to in Africa is Morocco. But I am all for bringing the world into my home and sharing beauty and history from all corners of the world.

I can’t wait to have it framed and find that special place in my home for this handmade piece of African art. I will show you once it is up.

Happy, happy to you all!

Images: No.1 scanned scanned from House & Home, No. 2, 3, 4, 10 and 11 via Hamill Gallery, No. 5+6 (set) & 6+7 (set) via Lanalou Style, No. 8 via Wisteria, No. 9 via Greige Design.
Written by Splendid Willow in: Art & Antiques | Tags: , ,

33 Comments »

  • Tina says:

    Dear Mon!
    Great reading!
    I´sure you´ll find the perfect spot in your home to put this beautiful Cuba skirt panel!
    Lately(since I read about it at your place) I´ve actuall come to see these patterns in adds from Swedish Walles & Walles. Now I know so much moore about them! Very, very interesting!
    Hope you´ll have a great start this week!
    Lots of love to you!!!

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  • I love Kuba cloth! Thanks for the lovely images! Best…Gloria

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  • Greet says:

    Monika,
    I love your taste!! I absolutely love these Kuba fabrics!! It is not easy to find here in Belgium and when you does, it costs a lot of money!!
    Oh my goodness, it is really beautiful!!!!
    Have a wonderful week my friend!
    xx
    Greet

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  • Lana says:

    Hi Mon, it’s a pleasure! Such a great post, you’ve really found the best pics and all the background info is so interesting, I didn’t even know all of this!x

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  • kiki alvord says:

    Great lesson Mon!!!
    I adore Africa and their different textiles. I bought several African artifacts and handcrafted things while driving around in the middle and southern part of that vast continent, ages ago when it was safe.
    Baskets, textile, prints, sculptures in greenlike stone, lots of yards of block handprinted cotton on a navy blue bottom, that still is in a box. Now it is time to get it out again as it is highly in. Can not wait!!
    kiki

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  • the hand stitching on the cloth reminds me
    of ‘tim burton movies’, which i love to watch because of the visual candy shop.
    and the films are DARK.

    so…i am loving this entire presentaion.

    and the black wall is so stunning.

    xx

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  • Style Attic says:

    What an eye, you’ve chosen a fantastic piece to frame forever! I love detail and I did not know the name of that fabric and thoroughly enjoyed the lesson here :) I’m loving that scalloped side table in the first picture…I’m going hunting…hope my wallets loaded! XOXO

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  • I’m so excited you’re getting one – I have loved these (and African textiles in general) for such a long time. I think this is the best post I’ve seen on the topic. I can’t wait to see which one you get!!!

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  • Monika, Love the post and interesting to learn more about this textile. Can’t wait to see what you do with it!

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  • Pernilla says:

    Hi Mon´

    Love it! There is a store out on Whidbey island where I have bought some nice rugs – I am pretty sure that they have some pieces, I even believe they have a pillow. Check it out – give them a call (the owner actually speaks Swedish having lived there for a couple of years).
    Can you let me know the price for the piece you found, would be a wonderful Xmas for my mom&dad. http://musicfortheeyes.com/
    Kram//Pernilla

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  • Delishhh says:

    Monika – How interesting. Love the print too! Hope you also had a great Halloween!

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  • Kari says:

    Yay, Kuba cloth!

    I brought back a long one from Africa, cut it into two pieces and used it over the seat cushions in my living room windows bays. The colors and patterns work so well for eclectic and modern interiors. I cannot wait to see yours in your home.

    Happy week to you! Kari

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  • Arlene Howard says:

    Monika,
    You go Girl! You’ve wasted no time in finding some Kuba. I have been to Hamill Gallery, and it is Extraordinary, several floors, in Boston. If you buy from them, you know it’s a good piece.

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  • Great reading, Mon! Love Cuba! Interesting to learn more about this print. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Cuba. Thanks you so much for your warm birthday hug!

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  • Love textiles, all kinds and these are particularly beautiful…loVe the pillow on the white chair!

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  • paula says:

    they are rather gorgeous.

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  • Stacey says:

    I enjoyed reading the background info on the kuba cloth. I love the ethnic and exotic flair that it adds too! I can’t wait to see it in your home:-). XX

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  • Jennifer says:

    Monika,

    I have two of these cloths framed. They are wonderful.

    I can’t wait to see yours.

    Jennifer W.

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  • Anci says:

    Hej !
    Jag vill bara titta in och säga hej. Det är annorlunda och spännande inredning du visar i ditt inlägg. Kul med något nytt !

    Kram
    Anci

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  • Mia says:

    The structure and pattern is beautiful! Look forward to see the pictures :)

    Många kramar
    Mia

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  • Handmade beauty… I love these patterns!

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  • The Zhush says:

    Loving the piece you chose (and now coveting some myself) framed or on a pillow, these are just gorgeous!

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  • Hi Mon, I love this cloth, especially framed!
    p.s. don’t worry about the parcel. standard mail make take some extra time from Europe. I’ll go to the post tomorrow and ask about it.
    big hugs!

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  • Emma says:

    What a great post! I have seen this fabric around as well but didn’t know the history behind it. I absolutely adore African textiles (well, actually textiles of any kind!) I’ll be keeping my eye out for one of these now. I hope you show us how the piece you purchase (yes, you should buy it!) looks.

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  • Very interesting. I loved learning about these textiles. I adore the pillows. They make me feel like I do when I see a touch of animal print. A warm unexpected texture.

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  • Leigha says:

    I always learn so much here. Cannot wait to see it hung in the perfect place.

    Leigha

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  • Piper says:

    Mon, you have such fantastic taste!! This post is absolutely gorgeous as is that fabric…wow. Hmm, maybe I need to frame something like this!

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  • Charlotta says:

    How fun Mon! I love the one you have picked, and also fell for a beautiful Mbuti piece from the same gallery.
    I can’t wait to see it up!

    Thank you also for enlightening me. I have admired a piece of framed fabric at a South African friend of mine and now know that it is a Kuba cloth. Thanks to you! x

    KRAMAR
    xx C

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  • Carole says:

    I love Lana’s pics Mon. This is very much my taste so I’m waiting with bated breath for the ‘after’ photo’s.
    x

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  • Julie at BV says:

    Hi Mon,

    Lovey fabric It would be such a great conversation piece. I hope we get to see pictures when you get it.

    Please say hello to Lars Bolander from me, remind him we were introduced by Beth Daugherty from Potterton Book at his book signing.

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  • I am absolutely smitten with these. And, yes, I do see how Matisse was influenced by these designs. Mon, even for fear of ‘copying’ I just might have to own one of these myself, I like them that much.

    Thanks for a very well-written piece.

    Donna

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  • Beautiful! I love learning about certain specific styles throughout the world… good to know! I would love to see photos when you find the perfect place for it :)

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  • Purple Area says:

    I can see what you mean.. they are great, gorgeous!!

    [Reply]

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