Old "Kasai Velvet" double panel measuring approx. 19 x 57 inches
The Kuba people of Zaire weave a wide variety of cloth made from rafia, a natural fiber from palm leaves. The material is stripped into very fine threads, soaked and pounded to make them flexible, and dyed in vegetal or mineral pigments to create a variety of colors. The Kuba employ a variety of weaving and decoration techniques. Cloth of this particular type, employing a single or double panel of plain base material, decorated with embroidery and/or cut pile work, is often called "Kasai velvet", since in the older very fine fabrics the material takes the look of velvet. The edges are often hemmed, though not always, and can be uneven. One source says "These textiles were used as currency, and as ceremonial offerings, in the Kuba Kingdom, which is in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and was formerly Zaire."
This particular piece is 2 panels, and is not exactly rectangular. The width is about 19 inches and the length is about 57 inches. I would guess it to be 20-40 years old, and has a nice old patina. The designs are a mixture of cut pile work, and false embroidery. The extra images are close-ups of the different parts.