Barkcloth, Mbuti People, D.R. Congo

Mbuti people, D.R. Congo
Bark, natural pigment
36″ (82.7 cm) high by 16″ (40.5 cm) wide
20th century

A barkcloth from the Mbuti people in the Ituri forest of northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. These were made from the inner bark of trees, pounded and prepared by men, then painted by women with twigs, fingers or twine. They were folded in half over a sash or belt and worn as ritual dress for celebrations and rites of passage.

This piece was collected in the 1980s by a noted ethnologist working on an Ituri forestry project. In the detail photo below, the waffle pattern from the ivory beater that was used can be clearly seen.