Shoowa cut-pile cloth

Man's Status Cloth ("Kuba Velvet"). Raffia palm fiber, stem stitch and cut pile embroidery. Shoowa people, DR Congo. Early 20th. century. Very good condition. Cm. 58 x 81 (23 x 32 inches). This true jewels of textile art ia a small Shoowa cut-pile cloth. 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 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 inventive 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. Price on request.

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