Traditional Indian Footwear
August 29, 2017
What is the history of traditional Indian footwear?
1. Some of the earliest traditional Indian footwear are Himalayan mountain and snow boots, and the Jutti.
2. The Jutti is one of the country’s cultural symbols and were used by the royalty of the Mughal Empire.
3. The Jutti is handcrafted – with an emphasis on the leather material and intricate designs.
4. Over the years, the Jutti has remained as one of the most popular footwear choices in India and has gained popularity across the world.
India is known to be one of the countries that have a rich and diverse culture that spans thousands of years. From their religion, traditional food, film, dance, music, clothing, and footwear, India’s culture runs deep and their people value it highly. For footwear, India is one of the earliest civilizations that have a diverse set of footwear. They have their own variety of sandals and step-in slippers that are part of their cultural heritage. Here are some of the most popular traditional footwear from India.
To start things off, we have the country’s version of boots and shoes that are worn in the colder northern areas of the country. These boots and shoes are made of wool, leather, and plant fibers to keep the feet warm. Thanks to these boots and shoes, Indians are able to explore the high elevation and harsh environment of the Himalayas.
Jutti is an Urdu (a language spoken in northwestern India and Pakistan) word which means a shoe with a closed upper. This shoe was popular among the royals during the time of the Mughal Empire. Thus, the design of these shoes is elaborate and more ornate – with gems, stones, and pearls being incorporated into the designs. The material used in making this shoe is pure leather, which gives it good durability. This shoe is also known as the Mojari and the Nagra. These shoes are also used in formal events like weddings, religious ceremonies, festivals, and parties.
Making the Jutti
The Juttis are purely handmade by skilled craftsmen who are hailed from the Punjab area. The process of making this shoe is elaborate – with the processed leather hides coming from the Chamars, The Rangars who paint and color them, and the Mochis who assemble the pieces together and add the embroidery and decorations. The designs are usually stenciled in and designs can range from simple to elaborate, depending on the maker.
The leather is tanned using vegetable tanning solutions which help it to become more durable. The coloring comes from powdered pigments and requires a shaving brush. The painted leather is cut into shapes and then the designs are applied.
Traditionally, the Jutti has an M-shaped front section which is known as the Panna, which is embellished with intricate designs and patterns that are consistent with the rest of the shoe. The designs are inspired by the various flora and fauna of India and the elaborate architecture of the Mughal Empire. Over the years, there have been many designs that have been crafted – from traditional designs to modern designs that are fitting for the times.
Innovation and appeal
As the years go by, the Jutti has stood the test of time – with more modern elements being added like improved crafting techniques and new types of designs that are popular with the current crowd. The Jutti also gained popularity in countries around the world such as the United Kingdom, Pakistan, United States, Canada, The Middle East, and other countries in Europe.
Indian footwear has seen numerous innovations in design over the many centuries that it has existed. Despite that, it has remained a staple in traditional Indian fashion and has become one of the country’s cultural symbols.