Modern Evolution and Commodification

Raffia pillow Raffia fashion

Modern manifestation of Kuba textile result from the process of commodification that came after colonialism. The patterns were often mythicized as non-Western representations, and their beauty was interpreted from a Western standpoint. Global trade expansion spread these patterns around the world without the benefit of context, and they exist today within a number of different markets. The tourist market is the most obvious manifestation of Kuba patterns, but they are also found prominently in the home goods industry and the fashion world. The symbolism involved in production and cultural meaning behind various motifs disappears as the patterns disseminate and widespread consumerism overtakes the ability of the textile to be produced within the bounds of tradition. Modern raffia is almost entirely produced in factory settings across the globe on sewing machines, completely removed from the original process.

This reflects the contemporary direction of colonized areas and their artistic production. Globalization has necessiated a space in which everything becomes a commodity, and this particularly applies to that which was previously considered site-specific due to Western curiosity and fetishization. Modern raffia currently exists in a space that completely disregards its context and importance, and its cultural symbolism is representative of generalization of non-Western cultures instead of reflecting the historical significance of the motifs and the changes that came about post-colonialism.

Raffia purse
Modern Evolution and Commodification