Mojari Footwear from Rajasthan

Introduction

The mojari, is the  traditional leather footwear of Rajasthan. The upper part is soft and made of cow, goat or buffalo leather while the sole is made of  thick buffalo leather. The sole and heel are constructed of layers of leather that are glued together and then stitched with cotton thread. The footwear  may be easily distinguished by the exceptionally intricate and densely embroidered upper portion. Mojari is made with locally sourced vegetable tanned leather. The leather and the thick sole insulates the wearer from the extreme desert climate. This characteristic footwear is worn by the farmers and is very useful when crossing rough terrain like the sand dunes and thorny, muddy pathways. Since Rajasthani women usually do not work the fields but mostly do the household chores, the footwear made for their use is thinner soled and usually embellished with red tassels.

Process

Generally, leather work is done by men.They are cut using traditional patterns that make no distinction between the left and right foot.  The footwear takes the shape of the wearer’s foot. The footwear is shaped using the three-piece wooden last and stitched with thick cotton thread . The suede used for the upper is reinforced with a lining of bakram (stiff lining) or thin goat leather on the reverse in order to create a firm base for the fine chain stitch embroidery, executed with an awl made of sharpened syringe needles.

No set design is followed for the embroidered flowers and creeper designs.The women undertake the embroidery, which is done either directly on leather or on textile (natural or synthetic) in woollen, cotton or silk; the threads are selected depending on the material of the upper surface. The skilled women create each design from imagination, constantly checking to ensure that the design of the second follows the first.This work is called as kashidakari. Due to the use of suede uppers, thin goat leather lining and buffalo leather soles, the mojari are light. The soles of the mojari are also  are highly decorative. The inside of the shoe also bears a small motif, coordinated with the motifs of the upper. The leather of the inside of the sole may also be patterned through the cutting out of motifs.  In such cases, a layer of coloured leather is introduced under the top sole layer to allow the cut motifs to be seen distinctly. The lower side of the sole is also often decorated with a stitched or cut out motif. This includes the ornamental punching and studding. At every stage the leather is hammered to make the stitching and the pasting firm.

There is a thin strip of leather attached to the front edge of the sole, curling around the toe and joining the upper form, which protects the toe. On the back of the mojari , a strip of leather stands out by an inch which  enables the wearer to pull on the shoe. There are various forms of Majoris available in market such as gol-panja (Round Toe), chota-panja (Small Toe), salem shahi (Pointed Toe). The mojaris made in Jaipur are designed such that they can be easily rolled up. The shoes are to be wiped clean with soft dry cloth. One should avoid wearing them in water.

History

Earlier, mojaris were worn by the people of the royal family. The royals loved to wear Mojaris that were embroidered with real gold and silver threads and decorated with precious gems and pearls. But with the gradual passage of time, other  materials such as  beads, brass nails, cowries shells, mirrors, bells and ceramic beads are used to embellish them. These are affordable and can be used by the common people. Recently,the craft has begun to cater to the urban and export market. As a result, the previously unidirectional mojari is now being made with a left-right distinction. The  three-piece last is still used to make the mojaris, which is an indespensable part of indigenous footwear making.

 

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