History of
Indian Crafts
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Indian Crafts >> Leather Craft
Leather Craft
Indian Crafts - Leather Craft
History of Leather Craft

The state of Uttar Pradesh is an important supply source for finished leather and leather products. The Tanneries in Kanpur are known all over the world for the finest quality leather tanned by them. Kanpur and Agra in U.P are the two renowned production/export centre for leather and leather products. While Kanpur is known for leather horse riding equipment, footwear (chappals and shoes), bags and purses, Agra is famous for shoes and shoe, garments etc. Agra is considered to be the biggest footwear-manufacturing centre in India. During Mughal reign, shoe and chappals were manufactured for the royal families. Western shoes were introduced in Agra after the East India Company took over Agra fort. To meet the demand of British soldiers, shoemakers from England were brought to train the local skilled artisans. By the end of World War II, market for Agra shoes expanded within the country and to outside countries like Iran, Iraq and East European countries.

Leather tanning seems to have reached a high stage by 3000 B. C. which use of this wonderful material. The manufacture of leather articles is carried out all over Rajasthan. Shoes made for rural use have a robust strength with bold patterns executed in very bright colours and heavy coarse stitches. Jodhpur and Jaipur is famous for making light, boat-shaped slip-on shoes called mojris. Bikaner is famous for making water bottles with camel hide.

Leather tanning have reached a high stage by 3000 BC. The skins used earlier were of tiger and deer particularly of the dark variety. Even Lord Shiva is clothed in a tiger skin and deer skin was used as a seat by the Brahmans of ancient India. Santiniketan under poet Tagore guidance blazed the trail for the modern decorative leather items, which include current utility articles.

Leather tanning seems to have reached a high stage by 3000 B.C. which paved the way for a wider use of this wonderful material man sought. Because of its wide prevalence in the rural areas, much of the tanning is locally done by indigenous methods which are quite laborious.

Leather tanning seems to have reached a high stage by 3000 B.C. which paved the way for a wider use of this wonderful material man sought.Delhi leather workers make traditional decorative joottis (shoes) and are engaged in general leatherwork.
Fine Art
Shoes from Jalesar, in Eta district are remarkable for lightness and durability. Fancy article of embroidered leather produced in Kanpur have batik designs.

A particular type of thickish shoes known as mojdis are made. They are usually ornamented with silk or metal embroidery or beads or designs done in applique with thin leather pieces of different colours.

Artistic / handmade leather goods with geometric, floral & figurative motifs pressed into East India tanned leather and sometimes filled with various colours are particularly attractive. In footwear, the style is confined to open sandals. The plain ones are in sophisticated designs, the other in leather painted in varied colours and designs. The designs on handbags are in batik style with the cracks,bold curves and lines and the traditional motifs. The seat covers are highly decorated with geometrical patterns or motifs, largely copied from alpana designs or even more from embroideries. Semi leather seats are also made using wooden or bamboo frames or sometimes with little touch of brass.

Santiniketan under poet Tagores guidance, blazed the trail for the modern decorative current utility articles. The footwear still leads, but the style is confined to open sandals. The plain ones are in sophisticated designs. Handbags for ladies are in a very wide range. The designs on them are in batik style with the cracks, the bold curves and lines and the traditional motifs. Kolhapur is famous for its leather craft, particularly its finely designed and crafted chappals or sandals. A range of traditional designs employing methods of tooling, fine thronging and plaiting on the uppers is used. The chappals are open cut and most comfortable, and very popular the world over.

As handtooled products, leather craft has a precision, clarity and plasticity of its own. Leather craft use, in addition to the usual hides and skins among the fascinating items of leather crafts are artistic bags purses, jackets and hand crafted sandals and slippers. The designs are extremely delicate and bright.
Procedure
Sheepskin or goat skin is first tanned either with tannic acid derived from bark of tree or from potassium dichromate to avoid the decay. It is finished with aniline. Pattern of the shoe or chappal is drawn on a thick paper. This tracing is kept on the leather, which is cut accordingly. To prepare the edges of the leather for sawing, weight and thickness of the hide is considered. If a heavier weight skin is sewn, inner edges to be joined are carefully thinned. Once skived and creased, heavy leathers are handled like light and medium weights. Stitch gauge is used to mark the seams for stitch holes. Lighter the leather, smaller the spaces between the stitches. To give a firm support glue is applied to the flesh or inner side of seam.

The camel leather is firstly softened and stretched over a clay mould made in the required shape. When the leather hardens, the clay is washed away. A kind of gasso work is used for decoration purpose. At first the pattern is drawn on the leather. After this the portion to be ornamented is raised by applying repeatedly a special preparation of shell powder mixed with glue and a kind of wood apple. The risen surface is painted in gold and other colours while the base is coloured black or red to make the shades at the top stand out

Sheep skin or Goat skin is first tanned either with tannic acid derived from bark of tree or from potassium dichromate to avoid the decay. It is finished with aniline. Pattern of the desired shape is drawn on a thick paper. This tracing is kept on the leather, which is cut accordingly. To prepare the edges of the leather for sowing, weight and thickness of the hide is considered. If a heavier weight skin is sewn, inner edges to be joined are carefully thinned. Once skived, creased, heavy leathers are handled like light and medium weights. Stitch gauge is used to mark the seams for stitch holes. Lighter the leather, smaller the spaces between the stitches. To give a firm support glue is applied to the flesh or inner side of seam.

Leather is first softened and then stretched over a clay mould made in the desired shape. When the leather hardens, the clay is washed away. The pattern is first drawn on the leather, then the portion to be ornamented is raised by applying repeatedly a special preparation of shell powder mixed with glue. When surface rises it is painted in gold and other colours while the base is coloured black or red to make the shades at the top stand out.

Sheep skin or goat skin is first tanned either with tannic acid derived from bark of tree or from potassium dichromate to avoid the decay. It is finished with aniline. Pattern of the shoe or chappal is drawn on a thick paper. This tracing is kept on the leather, which is cut accordingly. To prepare the edges of the leather for swing, weight and thickness of the hide is considered. If a heavier weight skin is sewn, inner edges to be joined are carefully thinned. Once skived, crased, heavy leathers are handled like light and medium weights. Stitch gauge is used to mark the seams for stitch holes. Lighter the leather, smaller the spaces between the stitches. To give a firm support glue is applied to the flesh or inner side of seam.
Resources
Basic Material : Cow skin, antelope (sambhar) leather
Decorative Material : Brass, copper metal, beads, thread for embroidery
Colouring Material : Potassium dichromate, aniline, vegetable dyes

Basic Material : Camel leather, shell powder, glue, wood apple.
Decorative Material : Silk or metal embroidery beads.
Colouring Material : Colours.

Basic Material : Cow skin, sheep skin, goat skin.
Decorative Material : Beads, copper metal, thread for embroidery.

Basic Material : Raw leather, clay, shell powder, glue, colours

Basic Material : Sheep skin, goatskin, antelope (sambhar) leather
Decorative Material : brass, copper metal, beads, thread for embroidery
Equipments
Knife, blade and chisel, measuring tape, revolving punch



Knife, blade, chisel, measuring tape, revolving punch, stitch maker, pricking awl, a pair of scissor, wooden mallet, shoe hammer



knife, blade and chisel, measuring tape, revolving punch, seat wheeling tool, stitch separating wheel, cutting nippers, pairing knife, scissors, wooden mallet, pricking awl, shoe hammer.
Artifacts
Chappals, shoes, slippers, handbags, wallets, jackets, table, and teapot cover

Shoes, saddles, popi (water bottle).

Handbags, wallets, key holders, purses, spectacle cases, moorah seat covers, cushion covers, chapels, slippers, belts, pouches

chappals, open sandals, sandals, purses, hand bags

artistic bags, purses, jackets, hand crafted sandals and slippers

Indian Crafts : History of Leather Craft