Technique – supports and reserves

The supports on which the reserves are made vary according to the raw material used and its treatment, and according to the structure of the fabric. They reflect availabilities in the natural environment but also aesthetic and cultural choices.

Two large groups of reserve can be seen : reserves that are tied and others that are sewn. They can be made without a mark or, on the contrary, follow a pattern inscribed beforehand in or on the fabric. The link itself is by nature variable : A thread of cotton, a strand of raffia, a strip of plastic or rubber, etc.

  • locally woven cotton

    locally woven cotton

  • industrial cotton

    industrial cotton

  • plaited raffia

    plaited raffia

  • plaited pandanus

    plaited pandanus

  • woven silk

    woven silk

  • woven camel wool

    woven camel wool

  • sheep's wool and sprang

    sheep's wool and sprang

  • double knot

    double knot

  • tying


  • tying pinched fabric

    tying pinched fabric

  • sewing and gathering

    sewing and gathering

  • reserve by sewing and concealment

    reserve by sewing and concealment

  • Embroidery


  • tied stencil

    tied stencil

tying pinched fabric

tying pinched fabric

Loincloth or belt Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kuba Raffia 70.2008.24.1

A long rectangle of raffia cloth. The central part, a shade of dark red, is made up of several pieces of raffia fabric put together then reserve dyed and then decorated with oblong patterns which are repeated throughout the fabric. These patterns are obtained by pinch pleating the fabric, then tied and dyed with a vegetable colouring agent. The dyeing processes are made after sewing the different pieces of fabric which make up the loincloth. We can see that the raffia fabric keeps the raised pattern on the pinched material. The edges are decorated with carefully applied geometric patterns in raffia. Raffia, the leaves of the raffia palm, is prepared and woven by men on single heddle horizontal looms. The design carried out by women. A wide range of loincloths is available amongst the Kuba. Loincloths are classified according to the hierarchy of the patterns and organization of the design which reflects the social organization. Loincloths with more decoration are more often identified as women’s ceremonial clothing which they wear wrapped around the waist during grand ceremonies. Patterned reserve dyed loincloths are rare. It would be a question of royal-blue fabrics worn on the belt. 81.5 x 500 cm