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Creativity in leather from Rajasthan

There is so much of brilliance in craftsmanship in Rajasthan, that we will probably take days to write about it all…but as we explore the rich crafts from the state – how can we talk about Rajasthan and not mention the amazing leather work? It’s marvellous and not just that, there is some wonderful history behind it too. The story goes that great warriors of Rajasthan used a lot of leather in items such as leather saddlery, water bottles, armour and shields and of course shoes. Today, of course, the warriors have ceased to exist but the fine leatherwork, including the art of doing embroidery on leather continues to be popular and is used to create absolute masterpieces. This leather craft of Rajasthan is a joint effort of the local men and women. While the men do the tanning, cutting and stitching, the women do the embroidery and highly skilled decoration. A great example of team work too!

Alwar in Rajasthan is known for this craft that became well known way back in the 19th century under the rule of Maharaja Banni Singh.  It is believed that in the 19th century, such leather artwork was favoured greatly by him.  Well, who doesn’t like a few elegant pieces of leather-bound books in their book-case?  It was loved then and it is loved now. This artistic state has a lot to offer when it comes to book binding in leather. The good part is that it is ‘cruelty-free’ leather, and uses vegetable-based tanning process. Apparently, the binding of the book ‘Gulistan’ by Sheikh Sasdi was completed by a craftsman called Karim Ahmed, who hailed from Rajasthan too.

Moving on to footwear…Jaipur and Jodhpur are known the world over for the gorgeous footwear, popularly known as ‘jootis‘.  A lot of different kinds of ‘chappals’ and shoes can also be found in the some parts of southern Rajasthan too. The ‘jootis’ design reflects the unique style of every district they belong to. Did you know that the way ‘jootis’ are made in totally different styles in these two places? Apparently, the common factor is the embroidery, known as kashida, that is done on the jootis. The difference lies in the fact that in Jaipur the kashida is first done on velvet which is then made to cover the shoes while in Jodhpur it is applied directly to the leather. Also, these lovely ‘jootis’ neither have a left nor a right foot! Now, that’s called making life easy…Who doesn’t own a pair of ‘jootis’? Well, if you don’t, please get one right now…

Another amazing work on leather in Rajasthan that can be found in Bikaner is the making of water bottles using softened camel hide, also known as ‘kuppies’.  Today, they have added a lot many products to their portfolio such as water jugs and lampshades but ‘kuppies’ is still what they are known for.

There have been a lot of innovations by the artisans, and new-age entrepreneurs are experimenting with combining techniques like never before to present a lovely range of products for us. One example that stands out is hand-block printing on leather, batik printing on leather to create a range of bags, trays and footwear.

I could go and on and on but you will lose interest and that would be so wrong…So, before you leave this page, I’ll like you to have a quick browse of my lovely findings of leather creations from this state.

http://www.sahajcrafts.com/full-grain-leather-ladies-footwear.htm
A elegant, stunning piece of footwear in hand-block printed leather via 
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/417849671652983678/
A backpack for you? Leather, nicely tanned and dyed with beautiful embroidery via 
https://umangvanshika.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/footwear-crush/
Pretty in pink…want one? I certainly dovia
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/503136589591855369/
Bound books and notebooks for you? I could do with one… via 
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/443463894531381940/ handstitched with calf leather #handmade #leatherbags #handstitched #craft #shoplocal
Hand stitched bags for work or simply for shoppingvia 
jawaja-leather
Hand made leather bag from Jawaja Leather via
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/510384570243574860/
Jootis’, ‘Jootis’ everywhere…found one that’s right for you yet?via 
A jacket in leather your thing? Then, here's a gorgeous creation ... via
A jacket in leather your thing? Then, here’s a gorgeous creation via

We need to keep buying these lovely hand created creations from these artisans to allow them to continue to exist! Carry these exquisite pieces with love and pride. It’s hand made, it’s unique, what’s not to love? You will be able to find a lot of similar work in your local craft fairs and shows. Of course, the likes of ‘Dastkar’, ‘Suraj Kund Mela’ will house these kind of products too.  So, please, pretty please, go and  support these lovely craftspeople by buying such products or else one day, this will become a dying craft, just like the ‘Manoti Art’, a type of leather art from Rajasthan, that is now on the blink of extinction.

We possibly cannot miss mentioning Jawaja Leather Craft and it’s revival spearheaded by Ravi Matthai of IIM and Ashoke Chatterjee of NID, Ahmedabad in 1975. Read all about it here.

Do what you can, after all, you are notjustashopperyou are so much more...

Shilpa xx

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    1. Hi Karen,

      We don’t wholesale, but could connect you to people who do. We offer a service, wherein we connect you to wholesalers for a quarterly membership. Please do let me know if you’d like to know more.

      Best, Nupur

  1. I am interested in sourcing bags as shown on your blog. Can you please provide details of membership enabling me in connecting to artisans.

    KARTIK

    1. Hello Kartik,

      I must begin by apologising for the delay in replying to your email. We are currently working on a program to provide easy and quick access to artisans and will be happy to contact you when we launch the service. In the meantime, please feel free to click on the link of the artisan information that has been included in the post.

      Best wishes,

      Shilpa

    2. Hello Kartik,

      I must begin by apologising for the delay in replying to your email. We are currently working on a program to provide easy and quick access to artisans and will be happy to contact you when we launch the service. In the meantime, please feel free to click on the link of the artisan information that has been included in the post.

      Please do let me know if I can help you with anything else at all.

      Best wishes,

      Shilpa

  2. Thank you ma’am. Also, ma’am your blog has proved to be a very resourceful.

  3. How do I go about ordering the handmade leather bag that is on this page?

  4. Wud like to buy a few things which were really attractive
    Lemme know how can I do it online

  5. Hi There I absolutely love pretty in pink chappal
    How can I order these
    Please reply
    Sobia

    1. Hi Sobia,
      Thanks for writing in. I had picked up something similar from Dastakar at Andheria Modh, New Delhi. However, I have seen similar chappals at Fab India – they’re called leather Khandawa chappals (http://www.fabindia.com/products/root-women-accessories-footwear/fabindia/leather-khadawa-embroidered-chappal/pid-11441830.aspx). One more link that might help. (https://www.iamhappee.com/products/open-toe-leather-chappals).
      Happy Shopping! Cheers!

  6. Kindly Attestation

    Dear Shilpa
    This is to informing that Block printed jutti (An elegant, stunning piece of footwear in hand-block printed leather) and Leather embroidery backpack (A backpack for you? Leather, nicely tanned and dyed with beautiful embroidery) that’s not your Products, Picture & Ideas that’s not you have done. How you add that our web pictures in your blog your property. It’s illegal. Kindly give us your contact details to talk next step.

    Manoj Yadav

    1. Dear Manoj,

      Thank you for your message. We DO NOT SELL anything. We only write to promote products that we believe and interesting and different. We also always give credit to the pictures. In the case of the backpack that you are mentioning, please look at the link given ‘via’ under the picture of the backpack, and it will take you to pinterest, that is where we found the picture. All our pictures have a link given under ‘via’ under the image or we mention, ‘sold by’ followed by the name of the company where our readers can buy the product, if they wanted.

      I hope this will clarify the matter. Like I said, we do not sell any products. We promote products created using traditional crafts. You can email me at: shilpa.c.sharma@gmail.com if you would like to discuss this further. Also, if you would like me to remove your picture, we will happily do so. Do let me know please.

      Kind Regards,

      Shilpa

  7. Hi, can I buy the footwear or leather bag

    1. Hi, we don’t sell currently on the blog; please refer to the source of the image mentioned below each picture to get further details. Thankyou

  8. I would like to purchase in bulk can you contact me at my mail or 7760548849

    1. Hi Rohit, thanks for writing in but we don’t currently sell from this website.

  9. I am reading your blog and I get the right information about creative innovations in leather. Rajasthan is nice place is in India. I like your blog. Thanks for sharing great info.

    1. Thankyou for your kind words! Glad you found the information useful!