This piece of raffia cloth is typical of that made by the Shoowa, a Kuba group who live south of the Sankuru river and used in a wide variety of ways as currency, household furnishings. Its style--the overall balanced pattern, the deep plush and even lines--is what they make for their own use and differs markedly from the style they typically use for export to other Kuba and neighboring groups. However, in 1947 while on assignment for LIFE magazine, Eliot Elisofon photographed Kafinga Philonique, wife of an Nsapo (Songye) chief, holding this cloth.
Rectangular panel of raffia cloth with cut pile embroidery and dominant XX pattern in natural and dark brown.
Eliot Elisofon, New York, 1947 to 1973, acquired Nsapo region, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1947
Africa ReViewed: The Photographic Legacy of Eliot Elisofon, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 21, 2013-December 14, 2014
Life...Afterlife: African Funerary Sculpture, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 1981-March 1, 1982
Three Collections: An Exhibition, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, June 1-17, 1955