Mandombe Script

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



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. The script 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 artisans.

We have worked with the Paris based Centre de l'Écriture Négro Africaine (CENA), with the Université Simon Kimbangu in Kinshasa and Artistic Director Audrey Manlot to develop the pattern.