The Northern potter behind the twenty naira note

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The woman behind 20 Naira note is Dr Hadiza Ladi Dosei Kwali, the famous Nigerian Potter born in a remote village of Kwali, Gwari region in the Nigeria Capital Territory, Abuja.

She was born in 1925 to Gbagyi parents. Gbagyi is an ethnic group of people predominate in the central heart of Northern Nigeria, Abuja, the capital territory.

Her name Ladi means Born on Sunday. Ladi Kwali was born in Kwali, where pottery was believed to be a woman’s job.

As a child, Kwali was exposed to pottery through the traditional Gwari pottery-method of coiling and pinching, but she finessed her skills after serving her aunt.
Under her aunt, she learned the Gwarin Yamma method of coiling and pinching.

Having mastered the art, Ladi Kwali moved to Suleja and developed the Gwarin Yamma skills.

She made a large water storage pot (the Randa), which she produced through beating from inside with a wooden paddle from coils of clay, which she perfects it with engraved decorated patterns. She decorated storage pot majorly for religious rites (the Tulu), a household storage pot (the Kasko), etc.

Most of her pottery works have symbolic patterns, including lizards, snakes, scorpions, chameleons, fishes, birds, and crocodiles.

Her clay works were mostly patronized by the then Emir of Abuja, Alhaji Suleman Barau, until 1950 when her work was noticed by a British studio potter, Michael Cardew.

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