African Tribal Art - Barkcloth, Mbuti People, D. R. Congo

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Mbuti people, D.R. Congo
Bark, natural pigment
29.5″ (68 cm) high by 14″ (52 cm) wide
20th century

An especially jazzy painted barkcloth from the Mbuti people in the Ituri forest of northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The variation between the lighter and darker pigment shades adds to the visual complexity created by the ingenious exploration of pattern, line and negative space

These were made from the inner bark of trees, pounded and prepared by men, then painted by women with twigs, fingers or twine. They were folded in half over a sash or belt and worn as ritual dress for celebrations and rites of passage.

This piece was collected in the 1980s by a noted ethnologist working on an Ituri forestry project.



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