“Mandombe Script : Exploring Language and Craft Design Collaboration in Revitalising the Kuba Textiles”

Mandombe cushions

Mandombe cushions

The project sponsored by the British and Craft Council is piloting a collaborative atelier between female artisans weavers and linguists to apply Mandombe, a pan-African langage as a pattern to modernise the Kuba textile. This collaborative network aim to bridge the gap between craftsmanship and design, between regional and international markets. 

The atelier is a platform to conceive ideas, maintain and sustain them overtime allowing our artisans to propose their design. 

The Mandombe is a script created in 1978 in Mbanza-Ngungu in the Bas-Congo province of the DRC  as part of a political movement originating from the decolonisation movements. It is based on the shapes 5 and 2, and intended for writing African languages such as the four national languages of the DR Congo: Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba and Swahili. 

During the project, the Mandombe script will be studied and developed as a pattern to be applied on Kuba cloth from DR Congo, a traditional raffia fabric, comprising of natural fibres made from the leaves of the raffia palm. Traditionally woven by men and embellished while piled and stitched designs by women. Kuba are a cluster of 16 bantu-speaking groups in the southeastern Congo renewed for their textiles. 

Our team is composed by 90% of talented women artisan.

Thanks for supporting Congolese cultures.

Kilubukila Atelier.