Distinctive BaKuba Ceremonial Raffia Skirt
This distinctive ntshakishwepy, or noblewoman’s ceremonial skirt, is from the Bushoong (BaKuba) of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Made up of multiple panels of handwoven raffia palm fiber (approximately 13 in. wide by 28 in. long) which are sewn together at the selvedges. The raffia has been softened to a linen-like hand. The full dimensions of this handsome textile are 38.5 in. x 149 in. When worn it is wrapped around the woman’s body many times and then secured with a belt.
Each panel has been boldly patterned with traditional cultural symbols amid a lattice-like grid of horizontal and vertical lines that are embroidered in black raffia fiber. The central panels have been dyed varying shades of taupe and embroidered in black raffia as well. Each panel is testament to the Bushoong woman’s innate sense of design and ease in arranging diverse elements in an original and visually balanced way. Tiny raffia pompoms that have been dyed a dark brown are sewn at intervals in groups of four around the edges of the garment. The taupe center really sets this one apart, as a truly distinctive and sophisticated example of traditional ceremonial attire.
This textile is in excellent condition.