Man’s Prestige Cloth
Kasai region, DR Congo
Circa 1950 or earlier
Raffia, natural dyes, cut pile technique
23 ½”x 26 ¾” ins (59. 5 x 68 cm)
Acquired from a Belgian colonial-period collection, this is an old example from the famed Shoowa textile artists of the Kuba Kingdom, which is highly unusual for being worked entirely in cut-pile with no embroidered lines, producing a dense, plush surface with rich coloration. The overall design is established entirely through the manipulation of colors obtained from different dyes, and shifts of light and dark values, while the use of black outlines or “shadings” brings out the zigzag lines in the grid and creates a dimensional effect.