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Section Of A Ceremonial Dance Skirt

This is a Section of a ceremonial dance skirt. It was made by Kuba People. It is dated early 20th century and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is raffia and its technique is appliquéd and embroidered on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

The Kuba (or Bakuba) comprise approximately 19 ethnic groups in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, organized into lineages according to matrilineal descent. The groups are united in a kingdom ruled by the Bushongo, whose chief is king by divine right—although his mother has historically held a higher status.[1]
The Kuba are known as bambala, or “people of the cloth.”[2] Their region is home to two species of palm trees, the oil palm and raffia palm; the second of these is the basis for Kuba textile arts. Ceremonial skirts from this period were often made from raffia, which served as a ground for asymmetrical compositions of abstract shapes that were part geometric, part anthropomorphic. The section presented here would have been one of a number of panels sewn together horizontally before being wrapped around the body in the customary fashion, such that the lower edges of inner panels would show beneath the panels layered above them. Although the inner panels were mostly hidden, they were decorated just as richly as the outer panels—a testament to the artistry of the maker and the status of the wearer.[3]

This object was donated by Gail Martin. It is credited Gift of Gail Martin.

Its dimensions are

H x W (mounted): 77.5 × 69.9 cm (30 1/2 × 27 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Section Of A Ceremonial Dance Skirt; Made by Kuba People; raffia; H x W (mounted): 77.5 × 69.9 cm (30 1/2 × 27 1/2 in.); Gift of Gail Martin; 2017-63-2

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1158845865/ |title=Section Of A Ceremonial Dance Skirt |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=30 May 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>