Image Gallery → Power and Prestige
Democratic Republic of Congo
Belt (yeemy mambolmshet)
Raffia, natural dyes, cowrie shells, glass beads
Gift of Rod McGalliard
4 in. x 7 ft. 2 ½ in. (10.2 x 219.7 cm)
Elaborately beaded belts are graded according to length and the number of intricate beaded panels. This one with three panels is considered modest compared to those with five. The interlace design on the red, blue and white glass beaded panel is called imbol, and it is the most prominent of all Kuba designs. Variations of imbol are found on textiles, architecture and sculptures for nobles and royals. Tukula, or tool, is a precious red pigment rubbed into the cowries. The belt is worn loosely knotted in the front, accentuating the interplay of the beadwork patterns with those on the voluminous raffia skirts.