Ituri Forest Bark Cloth
Ituri Forest Bark Cloth

Women of the Ituri Rain Forest in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) paint bark pounded by the tribe's men using patterns similar to those painted on their bodies. The syncopated, rhythmic structures of the paintings appear to be related to Ituri ritual, yodel-style, praise song structure. While the meaning of this and similar pieces from the Ituri Forest is not clear, the balance among and seemingly haphazard placement of curving and straight lines has been compared to the balance between chaos (or nature) and order (or culture). It may be useful to compare this cloth to that of their neighbors, the Kuba, and to women's art among the Shoowa.

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