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Kolhapuri chappals are Indian hand-crafted leather slippers that are locally tanned using vegetable dyes. Kolhapuri Chappals or Kolhapuri s as they are commonly referred to are a style of open-toed, T-strap sandal which originated from Kolhapur, a southern district in the state of Maharashtra. These are used during festivals as well as day to day purpose.
In july 2019 Kolhapuri chappals got a geographical indication tag from the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks. Select districts in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka will only know be able to carry the tag of "Kolhapuri chappal".
According to historic records, Kolhapuris were first worn as early as the 13th century. Previously known as Kapashi, Paytaan, Kachkadi, Bakkalnali, and Pukari, the name indicated the village where they were made.
It can take up to 6 weeks to make a pair of Kolhapuris. Originally made from buffalo-hide and thread, they weighed as much as 2.01 kilos because of the thickness of the sole, which made them durable despite the extreme heat and mountainous terrain found in the state of Maharashtra.
For making Kolhapuri Chappal various operations are done step by step:-
- Pattern making and cutting
- Attachment of upper and bottom heels.
- Punching and Trimming
- Decoration and Polishing
Design and durabilityEdit
The designs have moved from the ethnic to ones with more utilitarian value and materials from primal hard materials to softer and more comfortable to wear materials. The artisans themselves designed ethnic patterns and sold, but today the traders and businessmen with demand for cheap products drive the requirement of minimalist designs.
Kolhapuri chappals are known to last a lifetime if maintained well and not used in rainy seasons.
In the seventies, with the Hippie movement Kolhapuri chappals became a very popular footwear in the United States. The success faded out and recently came back influencing now models that are called toe ring sandals.
The business of Kolhapuri Chappals is seen by most as an obsolete trend. The artisan families making Kolhapuri Chappals from generations are moving to new business options as they are unable to meet the needs of the current generations. There is a small, traditional business like Korakari, which passed on the knowledge of making these leather sandals from generation to generation, continuing, even in present days, to handcraft durable and beautiful kolhapuri chappals. Kolhapuri Chappal is becoming a brand. Online platforms like Korakari provides evolution in designs of traditional kolhapuri chappals. Kolhapuri Chappals require a continuous supply of quality leather and a change in the legal environment has acted as a catalyst towards the end of this age old art. Although a new trend has been seen to resurface where e-commerce and social entrepreneurship are trying to revive this rare leather art-form. NGOs and websites like Vhaan Ethnic Craft are tracking dwindling numbers of craftsmen in the Kolhapur region in Maharashtra and are helping them sell their craft to the world via online shopping portals dedicated to Kolhapuris.
- "Kolhapuris: The famous leather chappal get Geographical Indication tag - Geographical Indication tag". The Economic Times. 19 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
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