There is one other image of this object. This object has no known copyright, and as such we offer a high-resolution image of it. See our image rights statement.


See more objects with the tag status, interlaced, diamonds, lattice, funerals, tribute, Kuba, African.

Object Timeline


  • We acquired this object.




  • You found it!

Status Cloth (Democratic Republic of the Congo), late 19th century

This is a Status cloth. It is dated late 19th century and we acquired it in 1957. Its medium is raffia and its technique is embroidered in cut pile and stem stitches on plain weave foundation. It is a part of the Textiles department.

The sophisticated visual culture of the Kuba kingdom has been noted since the first explorers visited the region. Abstract geometric patterning is deployed across all media, from scarification of the skin to textiles, basketry, pottery, and even the woven walls of noble dwellings. The devices of color alternation, contrast of surface texture, and play of positive and negative space result in seemingly endless variations on lozenge, knot, interlace, and braid patterns. While the Kuba have been admired in the west purely for the inventiveness of their designs, the pervasiveness and complexity of the patterns suggests a meaningful system. In a culture based on oral tradition, symbols, cosmograms, ideographs, and mnemonic devices contribute to the preservation and transmission of cultural knowledge.
Status cloths are collected throughout a man’s life and are displayed at his funeral as a sign of weath and stature within the community. Those that have been preserved provide a dazzling display of design versatility and symbolic communication.

It is credited Museum purchase from Au Panier Fleuri Fund.

Our curators have highlighted 1 object that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 73 x 46 cm (28 3/4 x 18 1/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Status Cloth (Democratic Republic of the Congo), late 19th century; raffia; H x W: 73 x 46 cm (28 3/4 x 18 1/8 in.); Museum purchase from Au Panier Fleuri Fund; 1957-110-2

This object may be subject to Copyright or other restrictions.

You are welcome to make fair use of this image under U.S. Copyright law and in compliance with our terms of use. Please note that you are responsible for determining whether your use is fair and for responding to any claims that may arise from your use.

For higher resolution or commercial use contact ArtResource.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Status Cloth (Democratic Republic of the Congo), late 19th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>