Example of Tambani embroidery, South Africa. Example of Tambani embroidery, South Africa.

Tambani is a South African self-help group that is making embroideries and appliqués based on local, Venda folklore. The Venda live in northeastern South Africa, in an arid area with little employment. The Tambani group grew out of the work of a South African academic, Ina le Rouz, who in 1989 carried out a research project about Venda folk tales at the University of Venda.

Ina le Rouz's research led her to Pastor Piet Mavetha (Church of the Nazarene at Folovhodwe), who introduced her to various local story tellers. She decided to help various women pass on their tales to the next generation by encouraging them to embroider the stories on small squares of cloth and, later on, bags, quilts, wall hangings, etc.

Initially, the women had no experience in hand embroidery and Le Rouz worked from a book on embroidery stitches and concentrated on chain stitch and running stitch. Later they increased the range of their stitches to include satin stitch, stem stitch and tent stitch. The subjects included in the embroideries include birds, centipedes, chameleons, clay pots for beer, houses, hippos, trees, and so forth.

Since then, the project has been growing with the addition of appliqués. Venda embroideries and appliqués are often on sale at various quilt exhibitions and fairs, especially in North America and Europe. The money raised by the sale of the objects is used to provide essential items for the women and their families.

Digital source of the Tambani group (retrieved 27th March 2016).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 8th June 2016).


Last modified on Friday, 05 May 2017 12:58