The Dalit Meghwals of Rajasthan migrated to Kachchh, bringing an artful leather craft with them. The trade was kept alive by a partnership with nomadic pastoralist Maldharis. When a Maldhari cattle died, the Meghwals converted the raw hides into leather. The work was tough, taking eighteen labor intensive days to treat and wash the hide. By recycling the dead cattle, the Meghwals gave new life to waste, transforming it into a product of utility. The Meghwals’ close relationship with the Maldharis resulted in a remarkable fusion of cultural customs which can be seen in the shared styles of dress and embroidery traditions of the various communities in the region.
Today, this craft is an important supplement to the income from farming, for communities in Hodka, Bhirandiyaro, Dhordo, Sumarasar, and many other villages in Kutch. Craftsmen make objects of modern utility, such as mobile covers, bags, stationery and lamp shades.
The leather was introduced during the Neolithic times. The oldest very well-known piece of leather footwear is the Areni-1 shoe that was made in Armenia by a team of archaeologist around 3500 BCE. The shoe is around 5, 5000 years old.
Narsi bhai bijlani is a master craftsman, he says that they are basically from Pakistan and they are moved to India during the war between India and Pakistan. Working with leather is their family business, which is been practiced by their family since many years. Leathers are bought from the leather dealers and the leathers are purchased in bulk costs INR 700/- to 800/- per kg. Embroideries on slippers are usually made by the woman’s and the price of the products ranges on the design and the patterns. It starts from INR 200/- to 300/-