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Everyday Uses
Celebration and Respect

In Kuba society, people use design cloths to show the wealth and status of the wearer. In life, design cloths are used to make skirts for ceremonies and special occasions. Women wear skirts made of seven to ten design cloths stitched together. The finished skirts average 3 meters in length. Men's skirts are much longer, averaging 6 meters. Owing to his rank and status, the king can use as many design cloths as he wishes. 


Kuba women wear design cloth skirts for a coming-of-age ritual. 

Photo credit: Monni Adams


Men's skirts often feature an appliquéd checkerboard pattern

Photo credit: Monni Adams

Women and men wrap the skirts around their bodies and secure them with belts. Some women attach flexible rattan sticks to their skirt's hem to add volume and movement when dancing. 

Design cloths from the 1940s, like these ones, feature an equal amount of cut-pile and un-cut stitching

Photo credit: Logan Museum of Anthropology

Design cloths continue to be important after death. Families show respect to their dead relatives by wrapping them in the finest design cloths. When a person dies, the elders from their village gather. They decide which design cloths from the village storehouse will be buried with the deceased. If a design cloth is particularly beautiful, it can be kept in the storehouse for generations awaiting a worthy recipient.

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