Purchase, William B. Goldstein and Marie Sussek Gifts, 2010
Not on view
In both Rwanda and Burundi woven basketry in the form of receptacles and architectural elements constituted the most widespread form of artistic expression. Historically, privileged Tutsi women were the major practitioners of this tradition. Although this distinctive regional art form has recently experienced a revival, the traumatic social upheaval of the last decade led to the destruction of many early works that reflect the technical refinement evident in this screen.
Woven screens "insika" enhanced the domestic interiors of wealthy Tutsi where they were formerly used as a form of mural decoration as well as room dividers. This particular example was probably used to enclose the area situated at the base of a bed. In this function, it complements "inyeqamo" panels, which served as a flexible element that could be rolled up to allow passage to the sleeping area.
Belgian colonial collection, until ca. 1950; Private collection, Belgium, from ca. 1950; [Clive Loveless, London, until 2010]