Advanced Search
Back to Collection
View Larger

Artist Name:

Mbeengi Artist, Kuba Kingdom


Noblewoman's Ceremonial Overskirt


19th century


Rafia and embroidery


43 1/2 x 22 inches

Credit Line:

Purchase with funds from the Friends of African Art and Joan N. Whitcomb in memory of Taylor Stuckey

Accession Number:


On View - Wieland Pavilion, Lower Level, Gallery 102, African Collection
Each block within this cloth contains a different design. In addition, the negative/positive interchange creates a dynamic, improvisatory quality combined with a taste for asymmetry and abrupt pattern-breaks. The extremely fine stitch of the embroidery, its complex patterns, and the irregular feature at one end—like a sketch done in thread—make it a masterpiece of central African textile art. It was made for a woman of royal rank or high social status. Within central Africa, the tradition of embroidered cloth predates the more well-known, early-nineteenth-century tradition of Kuba cut-pile cloth known as Kasai velvet. This textile’s all-embroidered ground and design layout, with a partitioning of the surface into multiple blocks of patterning, link it to the earlier artistic conventions of Kongo textile art, despite its origin in the Kuba region.

Reproduction of digital images, including downloading, is governed by copyright laws and international conventions. Please contact the Images and Rights Coordinator for information concerning permissions or to request digital photography of works in the High's collection.

Please Note: Not all permanent collection works are currently on view. Please contact the Museum concerning the on view status for a specific work if required.