ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Drawn mainly from the Museum’s extensive collection of African art, this exhibition showcases garments, accessories, and textiles made from the woven fibers of raffia palm leaves from West and Central Africa and the island of Madagascar. Raffia was once one of the most common textile fibers on the continent, before the introduction of imported cotton fabric. Exploring the ingenious use of this vital material, Wearable Raffia from Africa highlights 15 works of art from several groups across four African countries, including the Bamileke (Cameroon), Dida (Côte d’Ivoire), Kuba, Suku, and Teke (Democratic Republic of the Congo), and the Merina (Madagascar).
WHAT IS RAFFIA?
In Africa, before the introduction of imported cotton fabric, tree bark and leaves were the traditional sources of fibers used to make cloth. Raffia, the material harvested from raffia palm leaves, was once one of the most common textile fibers on the continent.
The DMA has one of the most significant collections of African Art in the nation, and it is an incredible resource from which to develop exhibitions that offer new perspectives and insights to our audiences. Often we think of objects inside a vitrine as precious, which they are, but these pieces were once used by people like us. The objects in this exhibition tell their story, and when we share it, they come alive.
– Dr. Agustín Arteaga, Eugene McDermott Director, Dallas Museum of Art