These two grass mats are made of raffia, a durable material derived from palm tree leaves, which is a traditionally used in making many woven goods in Central Africa. Among others, the Kongo and Kuba cultures are known for making elaborately woven cloths and mats from raffia fibers. As shown in these mats, the Kongo and the Kuba are also known for dyeing palm fibers with natural mineral dyes in muted shades and earth tones. These two mats were likely made for the tourist trade as placemats or doilies, but their elaborate floral designs resemble traditional Kongo culture “jour work” or “cut work,” a lacy type of traditional mat weaving.
For more information, you may contact the researcher(s) noted in the title of this exhibit entry, or Dr. Billie Follensbee, the professor of the course, at BillieFollensbee@MissouriState.edu