KUBA CLOTH BACKGROUND


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Kuba cloth is a visually pleasing texture with an equally fantastic history. It’s interesting to know that a simple cloth expresses moral issues, ethical issues, sexuality, gender, autonomy, and yes, even political matters.  Kuba cloth were incepted by the Shoowa people of Kuba – a kingdom in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa.  


The technique in which the cloth is made varies from the cultural subgroup. But one thing is clear: much love and time-honored skill is placed in the making of this beautiful textile. For one, the Shoowa people do not sacrifice craftsmanship at the altar of celerity; so it’s not uncommon for a kuba cloth to be completed in a week, at the very least. 


The manner in which the cloth is made is divided between men, women, and children. The men gather the raffia leaves and strip them by using stripping combs or their hands. Before the males tightly weave the raffia threads to form a base or mbal, the kids turn the stripped fibers into threads.  


To soften the cloth, the women moisten it with cold water before pummeling it with mortar. This is repeatedly done until the weaver is satisfied with the quality of the cloth. Dyeing of the cloth comes next along with the fibers that will be used for embroidery. Iron dross, indigo plant, and mud are often used as dyes.

 

The weaving of the fabric is often not planned. The weaver simply relies on her own special technique in creating a design.

The tiny imperfections as a result of that free-flowing technique ramps up the attractiveness of kuba cloth and makes each one unique.