Evolution of Leather Craft in Madhya Pradesh
Beautifully crafted leather animals are the unique speciality of the craftsmen of Madhya Pradesh. In the ancient times, kings and other members of the royalty engaged in hunting expeditions and used to preserve the hides of wild animals they killed. Horns and skins of the dead animals were preserved and demonstrated inside palaces as a trophy of their personal achievements and memories. Animal statues were stuffed with different kinds of items and the outermost areas of their carcasses were coated with painted leather in order to preserve them. Practised exclusively in Madhya Pradesh, this act of preserving the dead bodies of hunted animals is termed as 'taxidermy'. Thus this art, which commenced largely as a luxurious royal tradition has been accepted and imbibed by the local craftsmen.
Concentration of Leather Crafts of Madhya Pradesh
The centres of leather craft items in Madhya Pradesh are located in Gwalior, Indore, Bilaspur and Dewas. Madhya Pradesh is renowned for embroidered, red leather items. The embroidery is done with silk and gold on the leather items to give a perfect sheen. Gwalior is famous for leather shoes. Stylish leather garments and masks are made in Indore and Dewas. A traditional leather bag in which water is carried is also manufactured by the deft leather artisans of Madhya Pradesh.
Leather Crafts of Madhya Pradesh
The various types of leather crafts of Madhya Pradesh include beautiful leather attires, shoes or 'jootis', painted leather masks and stuffed leather toys. The art of manufacturing leather toys is unique to this state and the toys are considered as one of the important forms of leather craft. Creatures like deers, elephants, tigers, lions, giraffes, cows, horses, zebras and meerkats are utilized to make toys which vary from miniatures to life size versions. Such leather toys are very popular overseas and are major items of export. Several steps are followed by the artists to create these animal figurines. The artist first prepares the frame work with the use of iron wire and shapes it up in the required size. Dry grass is wrapped on this structure and joined with thread after creating these structures. Then flour of tamarind seeds is mixed with paper mache and applied on it. A thin soft goat-leather piece is put on to the product to complete the animal structure. After the completion of the entire structure, the craftsmen apply colour and other decorations.
The adept craftsmen of Madhya Pradesh create different traditional items and pieces out of leather that are used for decorative purpose. The leather crafts of Madhya Pradesh also include fancy and stylish leather garments including jacket and overcoats that have become the style statement of the modern trend.
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