What is Kuba cloth?

Despite its vast potential wealth, the Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world. Years of conflict have created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises leading to extreme poverty, mass homelessness and terrible health, nutrition and education circumstances. Oxfam gives a full report on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

With such extreme problems, supporting people in the Congo through the purchase of Kuba cloth offers a tiny solution to a tiny number of people, yet it offers this handful of Artisans both an income and a way of keeping their traditional crafts alive when so much else has been lost. Our Kuba cloth cushions tell a story, are striking, comfortable but are cushions that give peace of mind, knowing that you are relaxing amidst a sofa full of cushions that have made a difference to other people’s well being.

Kuba cloth is is a plain square of raffia cloth transformed into an amazing and intricate hand made textile with a rich ancient cultural history. An entire social group is involved in the production of the cloth, from gathering the fibers, weaving the cloth, dyeing the decorative strands, to applying the embroidery.

The square of Kuba cloth, the ‘mbal’, is woven by men on a loom while traditionally women decorate the cloth, using local plant dyes to colour the raffia, a needle to weave the raffia through the cloth, and a sharp knife to cut and tuft the raffia. Each square can take a month to complete.

The patterns in Kuba cloth are very traditional, representing aspects of the local geography or traditions.

Our Kuba cloth cushions have been supplied by a two person band – who are buying Kuba cloth directly in the Congo at fair prices, and are then transforming it into cushions. We have seen similar cushions for sale on the Kings Road for over £200 and hope that the money is being returned to the Congo to support communities. This is extremely rare cloth, and makes for the most stunning cushions with an amazing story behind them.

One Response to “What is Kuba cloth?”

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