History of Leather Crafts in Rajasthan
The history of craftsmanship in Rajasthan is rooted in ancient India. 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. The use of leather had begun for the first time when man hunted wild animals for food. The usage of leather for the purpose of clothing and others came into realization once the food requirements were fulfilled. Hide from cattle, deer was used to make clothes and footwear.
Making of Leather Crafts in Rajasthan
Even though one medium sized bag can be stitched in one day, with the involvement of two people, the processing of hides for preparation takes up one month and a lot of involvement. In the leather crafts industry both the men and women participate. While the men do the tanning, cutting and stitching, the women do the ornamentation and embroidery. The outcome is sturdy leather, which lasts years and ages beautifully. While some of the classic designs created at the beginning of Jawaja project are still popular.
Jawaja leather Craft of Rajasthan
Jawaja leather is a flourishing craft now, with its unique identity and style, and is becoming known across the world. The beauty of Jawaja leather work is the evenly stitched leather strips instead of threads. Two layers of leather 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 leather stitches have a characteristic diamond shape that adds to the understated elegance of these leather products.
Leather Products of Rajasthan
The most popular Rajasthani leather goods are the "Jootis" or "Mojris" (Leather Sandals). Mojris are made out of locally tanned leather. These shoes are generally decorated with silk or metal embroidery, beads. Sometimes one can also find applique work done on them. Mojris are so soft and delicate, that they can be rolled up or folded easily. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Barmer and Jaisalmer are traditionally known for this footwear. Bikaner and Jaisalmer produce decorative saddles for horses and camels. Bikaner is also known for "Kupi", a particular type of leather bottle made from camel hide. Rajasthan is also known for beautiful lamp and lampshades made from leather. "Nagra" sandals of Jaipur and Jodhpur are traditionally known for such exquisite footwear. Besides these, leather is also an essential raw material for making musical instruments such as the ‘Tabla’, ‘Dhol’ and ‘Kamaycha’. These instruments are used by Rajasthani folk musicians. Handbags, saddles, pouches, lampshades, hip flasks, water pots and perfume vases are also a part of Rajasthani leather craft. Designer hand-bags, purses, belts, hats, stools and collapsible chairs with graphic embroideries made from leather at Tilonia village near Ajmer is also example of good craftsmanship.