A Women’s Hand-Embroidery Cooperative in Zaria, Nigeria
The Hausa people of Northern Nigeria are renowned for their production of voluminous robes known as babban riga, which are hand-embroidered and now machine-embroidered on cotton damask fabrics. In the town of Zaria in Northern Nigeria, robe embroidery was primarily done by men until the 1970s, when women began to take up hand embroidery work. In 1994, as a Fulbright lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, I moved to Zaria City, the old, walled section of Zaria, where I began seeing women’s embroidery work, mainly of robes, and came to know several excellent women embroiderers who were interested in embroidering smaller pieces for sale in the US. The group was named Queen Amina Embroidery, in honor of the 16th century ruler of the Zazzau Emirate, Queen Amina. While Queen Amina Embroidery is a non-profit organization, managed by Hassana Yusuf, that represents a small group of 25 women and has modest returns, it provides income and an outlet for the embroidery work of Zaria City women--Elisha P. Renne.
500 Terry Francois Street San Francisco, CA 94158