Bessa Dorze Hayzo Weavers Cooperative
The Dorze WeaversThe Dorze are a small ethnic group in Ethiopia. Home for the Dorze are villages near the small towns of Chencha and Arba Minch which are located in the southern highlands of the Rift Valley. Historically, the Dorze were feared warriors but these days, they have the reputation of being the finest weavers in Ethiopia. In fact, much of what is sold in handicrafts shops in other parts of the country are produced by the Dorze. On my trip, I had the fortune to visit the Bessa Dorze Hayzo Weavers Cooperative located near Arba Minch. To my great surprise, all the weavers were men and very talented and skilled men at that! Working with very crudely constructed spinners and looms, they skillfully produce very beautiful pieces of cloth some of which incorporated very intricate design work. Though cotton is the fiber of choice, they also produce pieces using silk imported from India and wool.
The cooperative sells its products in stores around the country but I think the best buys to be had are actually at the roadside stalls in and around Chencha. If you find something you like, make sure you bargain!