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Exquisite footwear that is popular in domestic and international markets

Staff Correspondent

Leather craft is an important avenue of self-employment for skilled individuals in Belgaum



IN ACTION:A leather craftsman making ‘Kolhapuri chappal' in Belgaum.

Belgaum: Leather craft is one of the important avenues of self-employment sustained by traditional skilled individuals in Belgaum district. There is so much of their art work on leather that their hand-made chappal, popularly known as Kolhapuri chappal, has made a mark in both domestic and international markets.

Leather craft has been practised in the district since 18 {+t} {+h} century and many families are engaged in making bridles, whips, harnesses, shoes, sandals, ropes and water bags. This sector has witnessed a spurt with many more taking up the job as principal avocation both on retail and wholesale basis by making purses, suitcases and other ornamental articles.

However, the most important is the making of Kolhapuri chappal, the hand-made open Indian footwear of tanned leather. These chappals are made in the villages of Athani taluk, including Madbhavi, Mole, Athani, Shedbal, Ainapur, and in Nipani, Ananthapur, Ramdurg, Saundatti and Belgaum of the district.

For reasons not exactly known, these chappals, while being sold in adjoining towns and cities of Maharashtra, including Kolhapur, assumed the brand name of Kolhapuri chappal, although they have their origin in Athani taluk.

Made of tanned leather in different patterns and sizes, they are neatly ornamented with a gold colour cord, zari strips, pom poms or gota for special occasions. There are regular patterns for daily wear. The most distinctive element of the product is that it is all hand-stitched.

Today, for its exquisite look and comfort-wear, it is marketed not only across the towns and cities of India but also in markets abroad.

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