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.
On a thin brown background, dark gray and dark blue patterns are evenly drawn. The rhythm and the space created between the different signs are also said to be related to the polyphonic songs with which Ituri pygmies address God. Edges removed, fibers spread at the knots of 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 over the inner walls of the huts.
Ref : "Art sans pareil" J. Volper ; "Africa, the Art of a Continent" ed. Prestel.
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