Shoowa Raffia Embroidery
51 x 54 cm
Shoowa People, Kingdom of Kuba, Zaire, Africa
Early 20th century
Fibre of the Raffia Palm
Woven and Embroiderd
The Shoowa people have been designing and making embroidered textiles for hundreds of years. With their complex geometrical patterning and bold colours they were used as status symbols, dowries, shrouds, religious vestments or as a type of currency.
Men weave the plain-weave ground fabrics on simple vertical looms, then women ornament these textiles with imaginative geometric patterning with no stitching visible on the back. Cut-loop pile forms the majority of the designs.
For embroidery incorporating more than one colour, the raffia fibres are coloured with plant dyes before embroidering.