Kuba textiles are elaborate embroidered cloth made of raffia (palm leaf) fiber, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are unique in their elaboration and complexity of design and surface decoration.

Most textiles are a variation on rectangular or square pieces of woven raffia fiber enhanced by geometric designs executed in linear embroidery in flat-stitch and cut-pile stitching, the latter creating surfaces resembling velvet.

The textiles of the Kuba kingdom influenced numerous internationally renowned artists of the 20th century such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse—Matisse kept a large collection on display in his studio.



How is Kuba textiles done?

Embroidered Kuba textiles use a combination of cut-pile and flat stitches. Cut-pile (plush) stitching creates a velvet appearance. Basic flat stitches such as chain, stem and buttonhole stitches are used.

Meaning & Symbols

What is the meaning of Kuba textiles?

Kuba textiles stand out in patterns and rhythmic design. Abstract, geometric and angular motifs with geometric shapes merging together in a fluid manner. The basic color palette features tone-on-tone hues with flashes of color.

Kuba textiles demonstrate a taste for interrupting the expected line; they compose through juxtapositions of sharply differing units and abrupt shifts of form.
Mathematician Donald Crowe has analyzed, in particular, the two-dimensional designs of Benin, Yoruba and Kuba arts and has shown the extent of the Africans' explorations into the formal possibilities of geometric variation. In their art, the Kuba have developed all the geometric possibilities of repetitive variations of border patterns, and of the seventeen ways that a design can be repetitively varied on a surface, the Kuba have exploited twelve. This exploration does not mean that they confine themselves to repetitive patterning in confronting a surface to be decorated. (Washburn & Crowe, 1998)

Where does Kuba textiles come from?

Kuba textiles is a craft from Africa