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!