Intriguingly enough, Kuba cloth or raffia is commonly known and typically used when mentioning these textiles. The Kuba people refer to themselves as Bushoong, which the word Kuba is actually a Luba word associated with the ancient Bantu Kingdoms. The SHOOWA people are a very small tribe within the Kuba kingdom, and have not been examined closely by ethnographers, so SHOOWA embroidery are recognized and known by a dwindling few collectors. Kuba design has three stages or cycles;
1) Cosmogony 2) The institution of royalty 3) Migrations in the Kasai
The Children of Woot: A History of the Kuba Peoples provides astonishing insights into Kuba origins and the cultures. In fact, the number "3" into "1" and particularly, the number "9" are essential symbolic elements weaved and embroidered into these textiles as tattoos and scarifications worn by women --- "9" being a royal (and divisible) number, as well as the number of Woot's children. Shoowa and Kuba textiles display this numerical and complex encoded geometrical symbology and dynamic language, as well as other ancient symbols of royalty and power! These designs are traced and rooted in prehistoric human history, showing the development from basic geometric motifs to highly complicated patterns. Ironically, the "prehistoric" human continues to prove to have been more advanced, intelligent and civilized than his evolved successor's notions to accept and concede.
European artists such as Gustav Klimt and Henry Matisse were fascinated with these works --- juxtaposing certain textiles --- which deeply inspired and influenced their own artistic creations.Read more ›
A friend of mine has this book, and I fell in love with it. The photography is wonderful, and the book makes you feel like you have visited a museum. I recommend highly to someone who likes tribal art. Unfortunately the price I paid for a used copy was 50% more than the original published price. I guess it is out of print.