Leather Crafts of India



The use of leather had begun for the first time when man hunted wild animals for his food . He realized the usage of leather for the purpose of clothing and others, once his food requirements fulfilled.It got further boost when he settled down and domesticated cattle. Hide from cattle, deer was used to make clothes and footwear.

There have been numerous references in ancient texts and myths about the use of animal hides. Ancient sages and ascetics used to sit on deerskin, while meditating.

In the past, leather was not only used in making clothes and footwear, it was also used in making caps, bags, saddles, armor etc.

India is famous the world over for its leather products. In the rural areas of India, hide from cattle and camel is locally cured and after tanning, it is used to make different items. Different regions of India have different leather products to offer:

Kohlapur in Maharashtra is world famous for its kohlapuri chappals (traditional Indian footwear). These chappals are popular because of their softness and durability. They come in a large variety.

Rajasthan is known for its decorated leather items: Mojdis or thick footwear are made out of locally tanned leather.

These shoes are generally decorated with silk or metal embroidery, beads. Sometimes one can also find appliqué work done on them. Mojdis are so soft and delicate, that they can be rolled up or folded easily. Bikaner and Jaisalmer produce decorative saddles for horses and camels. Bikaner is also known for Kopi, a particular type of leather bottle made from camel hide. Rajasthan is also known for beautiful lamp and lampshades made from leather.

West Bengal is also known for it's decorated leather products. Various types of handbags, pouches, bags etc are made here. These items are usually decorated with traditional motifs and geometric patterns or pidis.

Kashmir is known for ornamental leather products. Hoshiarpur in Punjab is known for use of leather pieces in appliqué work.

Madhya Pradesh is famous for embroidered red leather items. Embroidery is done with silk and gold. Gwalior, Indore, Bilaspur and dewas are known for production of shoes, jutties, bags, mushk (traditional leather bag in which water is carried). Gwalior is also famous for shoes, while Indore and Dewas are into making leather garments.

Karnataka has been noted for leather products painted with epic and mythological scenes, done in gold and silver.

Andhra Pradesh is also known for leather puppets, which generally are mythological figures.

The present day leather craft of India has become a big industry and caters not only to local but foreign needs also. Utilitarian items like shoes, jackets, lampshades, pouches, bags, belts, wallets, stuffed toys etc made from leather are exported from India in large quantity.