The India Leather Days has been taking place regularly on the fairgrounds of Messe Offenbach in Germany. This Event has not only promoted the Country brand image of India as a leading supplier of high-quality leather goods & garments but has also ensured a very huge buyer turnout. The buyers are not only from Germany but from other European countries as well. The trade fair is organized by the Council for Leather Exports (CLE) India and Cosulate General of India Frankfurt. This year there were runway show conducted in the opening ceremony. The objective of the runway show was to present and showcase Indian leather accessories to European buyers.
The Leather Industry holds a prominent place in the Indian economy. This sector is known for its consistency in high export earnings, and it is among the top ten foreign exchange earners for the Country. The history of leather manufacturing dates back to Indis valley civilisation in India. Various ancient scriptures and stories of the Vedic and puranic kings mention the usage of animal skin as clothing as well as armours, saddles, footwear, utensils etc. Rishis used to sit on deerskin for meditation. Each part of India has specialised craft techniques which make use of the tanning and leather making skills.
Gujarat offers premium quality traditional leather goods that are often embellished with embroidery, bright tassels and mirror work. Excellent items are made of leather such as mirror frames, mojdi, bags and purses. The city of Kohlapur in Maharasthra is renowned for its traditional leather footwear, famously known as the ‘Kohlapuri chappal’. Mojaris (shoes), Bags, accessories, saddles and harnesses for animals made from leather by the traditional artisans of Rajasthan is a treat for the craft enthusiasts. The leatherwork from Jaisalmer and Bikaner are not just handcrafted from start to finish, the leather products are even stitched with leather strips instead of threads.
The cities of Gwalior, Dewas and Indore of Madhya Pradesh are known for the embroidered leather shoes, jutties, bags and mushks. Miniature to life-sized leather animal making is a unique craft from Indore which even got the GI tagging. The region around the famous Shantiniketan in West Bengal is renowned for sustainable and colourful vegan leather bags. Shantiniketan leathercraft uses embossed batik work and traditional patterns.
Leather Puppets of India
Sri Krishnadevaraya, the Emperor of Vijayanagara during the 15th Century introduced the art of leather puppetry (tholu bommalata) playing puranic stories among the masses in villages in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Leather puppetry of Nimmalakunta in Andhra Pradesh got the geographical indication (GI) tag in 2008. Nowadays, Miniature 2D and 3D leather puppets are in vogue as showpieces. Art of making leather table lamps, a craft that is inspired by tholu bommalata is a flourishing rural craft in Nimmalakunta.
Tholpavakoothu, leather puppetry from Kerala uses leathercraft, light and sound to perform the storytelling. Leather puppets are held up, and terracotta lamps or coconut halves are placed behind the dolls causing the shadow to fall on the white screen held in front. The handmade puppets are painted in vegetal colours.
Modern leather Industry in India is the 2nd largest producer of footwear, 2nd largest exporter of Leather Garments, the 5th largest exporter of Leather Goods and 3rd Largest Exporter of Saddlery and Harness items.
The leather industry is an employment intensive sector, providing job to about 4.42 million people, mostly from the weaker sections of the society. Women employment is predominant in leather products sector with about 30% share.