African art > Textiles, Kuba velvet, Ncak nsueha Bushoong > Textile Pongo
Etoffe Pongo of The Pygmies of Ituri (N° 18810)
Ex collection of Swiss African art.
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Produced by the pygmies of the Ituri forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these woven fabrics made of ficus bark fibers were painted by women. The men cut wood and hammered the bark, and the women usually used a decoction of gardenia mixed with charcoal ash to draw designs similar to the tattoos worn by tribal members.
In this example, parallel graphics have been drawn on a light background. The rhythm and the space created between the different signs would also have a link with the polyphonic songs with which the pygmies of Ituri address God. The fiber is pierced at two knots in the bark.
The Mangbetu, in contact with the Asua pygmies, produced a similar type of cloth (called tapa in Oceania) decorated with more complex symbols called murumba or nogetwe.
This type of cloth, if not worn as a loincloth, could be stretched on the inner walls of the huts.
Ref : "Art sans pareil" J. Volper ; "Africa, the Art of a Continent" ed. Prestel.