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Traditional Fulani Attire, Mudukare & Henna

I remember performing a Fulani dance in school when I was about 6 years old. Of course, they called it Hausa dance 🤦🏾‍♀️ but it was this Fulani attire called Mudukare, that we wore.

While in Kano, I visited the Kurmi market, where I saw the Mudukare, along with other arts made by Fulani and Hausa people. Here's a brief history of Kurmi market. It is the oldest market in Kano, established over 500 years ago. It was created in the 15th Century by Muhammad Ramfa, who was the emir of Kano at the time. Today, Kurmi market is still very much a center for trade. The traders sell a lot of cultural goods like traditional clothings, jewelry, shoes, bags, etc.

Above are some pictures of Fulani traditional attire called Mudukare. Mudukare takes about 3-4 days to make. The women wear it with beads on their hands, head and waist. While also decorating their braids with cowries and silver coins. The men wear it with a cone shaped hat called Noppiire. Today the mudukare is used more for traditional Fulani dances than for traditional attire.

Today, most people in Northern Nigeria wear the same things. The women wear Ankara skirts and blouse while the men wear babaringa (agbada in Yoruba). They also wear the popular hula (colorful embroidered hat) which is originally Kanuri but has become a popular fashion piece for most men in Northern Nigeria.

Another important aspect of Fulani attire is how the women decorate their hands and feet with henna. The day before Eid el Fitr is a special day for many Muslims around Nigeria.

For some of us, that day we’re just feeling the glee of having a two day break from work. But for them, they’ve gone through Ramadan as a community, bonded and come together for iftar every evening. So, at the end of it, celebrating Eid as a community is very special.

About six months ago, I interviewed a Fulani woman who told me what the day before Eid el Fitr was like when she was a child. She told me how the boys would go and cut their hair with their fathers and the women would braid each other’s hair. Then at night, she would fall asleep while they were doing her henna but even in her sleep, she would remember to stay still so the henna wouldn’t smudge.

It sounded so magical. Just like a child, the day before their birthday or waiting to open their Christmas presents. It’s the same. It’s a day where they get to eat too many sweets and play with their cousins and friends.

I almost felt that level of excitement the day before Eid in Kano. We had arranged for this lady to come and do my henna so I was really looking forward to that. The one thing that surprised me was how long it took. I’ve done henna like two times before in my life but it was never this extensive. It was just the black one on the back of my hands. This red part on my palms and sole of my feet took like an hour for each then plus the flower designs, the whole thing took about six hours in total.

At the end, I was exhausted but the end result was so beautiful. While she did it, I asked about where they got the dye from. Her answer was the paste was grounded from the leaves of the henna tree. I asked what the design meant and she said, “nothing, it’s just the Eid design”. I responded with a chuckle because before I asked her I thought, “Lanu, sometimes things don’t have to mean something, they can just be beautiful”.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a writer and illustrator from Lagos, Nigeria.


In 2015, I started a company called IheartLagos with the aim of showcasing Lagos culture in a unique and fun way.


That journey took me down an exciting path, discovering and learning so much about Nigeria.

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