Leather craft goes way back to the Indus valley civilization where there are several references from ancient text describing the use of animal skin. The Rig-Veda mentions leather items around 3000 BC. These included bottles, and water-carrying bags called “mashaks”. In addition to leather bands, straps, laces, and similar cord-like implements, other literary references also mention common articles made from leather used in everyday life. It was clear that leather was very respected and needed during this time. The usage of leather for the purpose of clothing and others came into realization once the food requirements were fulfilled. Leather is used for making not only clothes and footwear but also making bags, saddles, armors etc. Every region around India is know for their different style of work.

Handcrafted leather shoulder bad

Rajasthan is famous for Jawaja leather craft a style with unique identity. The beauty of this style is the evenly stitched leather strips instead of leather thread. Leather layers are first stuck together and then stitched by punching holes with awls, or large needle like tools, and leather strips are made to pass through the layers, binding them together. The diamond shape of the leather stitches adds to the understated elegance of these leather products.

Every step of the process, from the manufacture of raw hides to the finishing of the product, is done by hand, in the houses of the craftsmen. The use of new techniques considerably reduced the odour of leather while it is prepared; therefore, the craftsmen can work at their homes from start to finish. A solution of lime (choona) and sodium sulphate is soaked for about 15 to 20 days in a solution sourced from Nasirabad and Raipur, nearby towns. This removes hair from the raw skin and prepares it for further processing. The hides are stitched at the edges with a local grass, known as moonj, and filled with salt water and babool bark powder for the process of veg-tanning. This solution is changed around 10 to 15 times, until the hide becomes stable and watertight. The hides are then sun dried and polished with oil. After scraping the underside and dyeing the hide, it is ready to be turned into the most desirable products.

Men’s two fold leather wallet

There are both men and women involved in the leather crafts industry. Women do the ornamentation and stitching, while men do tanning, cutting, and stitching. The result is strong leather that ages beautifully and lasts for years. Several of the classic designs created at the beginning of the Jawaja project still have a cult following. 

It is true when people say wallet is your lifelong partner. So why not have a one with amazing design with the old traditions still there to remind you of your roots. Leather crafted wallet made by Subhash Bakoliya is just the right addition to your lifestyle.

Samriddhi Saraswat
Samriddhi Saraswat

1st year undergraduate student at the Jindal School of Art and Architecture.

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