About this artwork
According to oral tradition, the seventeenth-century Kuba king Shyaam introduced plush-textured raffia textiles to his kingdom. Raffia panels have long been considered valuable in Central Africa; plain panels were used as currency as early as the sixteenth century. Increasingly decorative panels, embellished by women with innumberable combinations of geometric patterns, may have developed from this practice. Until the early twentieth century, such panels were exchanged in a variety of contexts—for instance, as royal tribute or part of a marriage contract. Today they continue to be collected by families, used in funeral displays, and buried with important adults.
Currently Off View
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Made 1925–1975
- Raffia, plain weave; embroidered with raffia in stem stitches and running stitches cut to form pile
- 54.2 × 48.7 cm (21 3/8 × 19 1/8 in.)
- Restricted gift of the Textile Society and royalties from Avon Company