Kasai Velvet, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Despite its name, Kasai velvet, or velours du kasai, is not actually a velvet. Rather, it is embroidery on a finished piece of raffia cloth. Kasai velvet is traditionally woven by Shoowa men of the Kuba ethnic group in the Congo, and the embroidery that gives the cloth its characteristic geometric designs is done by women. This type of textile has been produced by the Kuba for at least 250 years and has been used as clothing, gifts, and currency. Kuba legend tells that the seventeenth century ruler Shyaam a-Mbul a-Ngoong brought the skills of weaving and embroidery from those living in the west. The Kuba have since developed a distinctive set of embroidery motifs and techniques. Kasai velvet is still produced today.
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