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Leather need not be dull...

Swaati Chaudhury, Jan 20 2018, 22:59 IST
Leather craftwork of RajasthanPhoto by author

Leather craftwork of RajasthanPhoto by author

For those with a penchant for leather craftwork, head off to the 'Blue Lotus' town of Pushkar, to be precise, to Jawaja village in the district of Ajmer, around 150 km from Pushkar.

The Jawaja block enjoys the distinction of preserving the traditional camel-leather craft that dates back to more than three centuries. Made of close to 200 hamlets, it's a drought-prone area. But there are nearly 2,000 craftsmen who work here, and most of them belong to the Regar (means dyeing in Rajasthani) community.

The craftsmen are primarily involved in dyeing and tanning of camel-skin hides. But both men and women are involved in the cutting and stitching of hides. Some of them also make shoes. It takes a couple of days' time to make 10 leather bags without machines.

Raw material is procured from the Jodhpur and Barmer regions of Rajasthan.

First, there's the processing of leather from raw hides, which takes about a month. The hides are embossed with various designs (this takes a few hours), chemically painted on, sun-dried for four hours, and then polished with oil. The processing of these camel-skin hides takes nearly a month.

One can walk down the Sadar Bazaar area (which forms the main market in Pushkar) to buy the best of the leather goods. Their prices in Pushkar are comparatively cheaper than in the other cities of Rajasthan.

Embroidered purses cost Rs 40, colourful pencil boxes Rs 160, and a ladies' handbag may cost you Rs 1,000!

The more eye-catching but expensive goods are the diaries embossed with the images of Lord Ganesha, at Rs 1,500. But there are other motifs like flowers and gemstones to choose from.

Other leather-craft goods to be bought here are belts, bags, portfolio bags, school bags, etc. They have an unending stream of buyers as the holy town of Pushkar is frequented by tourists. It's also known that these goods are exported to the United States, Australia, and Europe.

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