Saturday, 5 June 2010

Day 163 - Embroidered Dancing Shoes

Traditional footwear or tilla jutti of Rajasthan are entirely hand-made, with tilla (silver and gold wire), embroidered uppers and no nails as they are strictly hand-stitched. No distinction is made between the left and right foot. 

These ethnic shoes were once worn by the Maharajas and Maharanis of India. The designs have changed very little from the days of the Mughal kings and till today,  the men's jutti is still characterised by an upturned toe resembling a proudly curling moustache. 

These footwear were made with thin leather  in various shades of brown for the insoles and base. A pair of prized jutti by skilled craftsman often include dense embroidery even in the leather insoles. 

Above all, it is in the embroidery work that the jutti will be judged and differentiated.  Beautifully stitched with threads and beads, you can often tell which region a jutti is made by the embroidery pattern.

Do you know that traditionally, the role of a shoemaker in a tribal Rajasthan village was considered so crucial  that he had 1st right to all the skins of animals which died a natural death? He just had to share them with the village sweepers. 

Not only that, he was also given a fixed share of the village produce in return for which, he was to supply his patrons and their families leather shoes and other leather tools once or twice a year.

Jutti making has since become a family occupation with the women embroidering the uppers with an awl while the men construct the shoe using cowhides for the uppers and buffalo hide for the insole. 

This vibrantly coloured collection belongs to dear Walter, beautifully embroidered by none other than his Ro.

 Note the pointy shoes in pic depicting 19th century Indian musician.

Many thought our Banjaran musician usually performed without shoes,  not our Walter who is always very careful about his appearance. That's why he owns the same shoes in twelve different colours.

Dear Ro, on the other hand, has only two pairs. Although lacking in quantity when compared to Walter's, these shoes, weaved with hemp dyed in the brightest hues, are no less durable and pretty. These shoes were made for dancing but Ro wears them only on very special occasions like when she is chairing the village meetings. 

If you love shoes like me, you will know that the problem is never about buying them. It is always about storing them. That's why Walter is suffering a headache now.


I walked into this old textile shop just down the road from my house for the 1st time 3 weeks ago even though I have stayed in this area since 1992. I saw the trimmings shown here at the 5th pic from the top stashed in a box and in matter of 5 minutes, the sleepy old lady at the shop slashed the price from S$12 a pack to S$8. She told me that the trimmings were made in Bombay (probably true) 9 metres each (not true, some were only 6 and all less than 9) and good value (absolutely true). I bought 14 packets, all different colours and Walter's shoes are the 1st things  I made with 12 of them. Ro's shoes are painted.


rosanna said...

My dear !!! they are wonderful !!! Walter loves them ! but it's true that it will be a headache....his stock of REAL shoes is thrice mine and we already don't know how, or where, store them ;o)
That's why you have been so silent lately, you have been BUSY :o)))
I love mine best of all,the colours and the texture! we are at home only for 1 hour at lunchtime and that's a gorgeous surprise.
THANK YOU very very much, Walter + Rosanna

Michelle's Mad World said...

These are wonderful, what fabulous colours and detailing! They must have taken you ages! :o)

Michelle xx

Merry Jingle said...

The shoes are absolutely fabulous! You're one magician with your materials in making them into minies :)


sagrario said...

¡Son preciosos! y el colorido es expectacular, muchas gracias por la historia de los zapatos me ha gustado mucho

Ascension said...

Gracias por hacernos conocer nuevas maravillas.
Son una preciosidad, los colores fantasticos y muy, muy reales, enhorabuena!!!
besitos ascension

Flora said...

"Patience is the virtue of the strong," says the proverb.
To you certainly do not miss :-)
The slippers are wonderful and bring me back to my fatasie on The Thousand and One Nights, when as a child daydreaming of those fabulous palaces and riches ...

Caseymini said...

Your shoes are outstanding and I love the background stories. Very interesting. Thanks for putting the information in.I have never seen trims like that before. What a treasure!

Sans! said...

I KNEW IT!! I have guessed that Walter would have more shoes than you and need loads more wardrobe space! Haha! But really, the reason why I made so many more men's shoes is because of the metal pieces that I used for the base. I had like 16 pairs for the men's version and only 2 for the girls'.

Yours were too small for me to use any cloth. So I painted them only and then tried to "brush" some brown "fiber" over to make them look like dyed hemp. Not sure if that worked. I should re-post the pics so they can be enlarged. The new image uploader is quite a pain!

Sans! said...

Thank you, Michelle :). Each pair probably took me almost 2 hours. I don't understand it as well :):). They should get easier but I seemed to take longer with each pair I started on 1 pair at 8.05 pm last night and told myself I would stop at 9pm to watch Boston Legal's final episode. When I finished, it was 9.30pm. What the heck, I missed 1/2 an hour already so I started on the next pair of shoes and then when I finished that pair, it was 11.30pm!!!

Sans! said...

Estoy tan feliz que visita mi blog de nuevo, Sagrario! Soy capaz de leer y entender tu comentario completamente sin traductor Google!

Estoy muy contento de que siempre guste mi historias :):).

Janice said...

These shoes are absolutely fabulous, it took me a while to realise that the photos were of the ones you had actually made and not an archive photo.
Really superb

Sans! said...

Ascension , me hiciste tan feliz!Sé que mis esfuerzos son todavía amateur.

Pero estoy muy contento de que les guste mi historia. La mayoría de los hechos salieron de este libro maravilloso que he llamado "Handmade In India".

The Old Maid said...

Beautiful shoes! You must be a very patient Lady since you made soo many of them :)

Pubdoll said...

You are so talented my dear! I must admit when I started reading and saw the photos I first thought Rosanna had sown the shoes and you know that is a huge compliment :-) (I forgot that she must far too busy preaparing for SIMP)
The shoes are all exquisite and in perfect style and I'm impressed that you had the patience to make so many of them, and all of them with that high standard!
When we were in Trondheim we were at an exhibition showing how the upper class in Trodheim lived in the 18th century - "the golden age" of Trondheim. There we saw many handmade shoes from that time, many with really beautiful ornaments and your shoes remind me of them as well.

dora said...

Susan, are wonderful, really lovely. beautiful congratulations.
Carmen kisses

Eva said...

I have had without checking blogland (just a fast view) and I have seen that I missed the post about your mum... for me it has been wonderful to mmet her and also your Dad :) So so nice...really. You mum looks pretty and sweet (and what a wonderful nails!)
Regarding shoes, they are fab.
Walter shoes are prtty with all these colors but my favourites are Ro shoes. I want ones in real size!!!
Great work my dear. Have a nice Sunday!

Sans! said...

Flora, GRAZIE MILLE! I have only recently learnt patience :). All because of miniatures. Sometimes I wonder though if it is truly patience or just doing what you love. :):)

If you love 1001 Nights or Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, do go and watch "Prince of Persia". I think I can watch it again and again for all the details. I am easy to pleased. Just have the word "Persia" anywhere near anything and I am sold :):).

Sans! said...

Thank you Casey, high praise indeed from the master herself! :)

The trims are indeed treasure for me at a bargain too because the ones I bought in Delhi cost way more! I am tempted to go back for the other colours now. :)

These trims make making the shoes possible. I wouldn't be able to sew anything near that kind of details otherwise. Rosanna I am not :):).

cockerina said...

Sans, they are a wonder! enter your blog is like reading an ancient book of fables from Indian Arabian Nights ...
I have no words, they are beautiful!

Daydreamer said...

Sans, I don't know how you do it! Every new blog a wonderful new skillfully made mini item (or dozens!) and the researched history to educate us too! Those shoes are every mini-lovers dream come must give us some hints how you do it...:)So beautiful and colorful! Thank you!

Sans! said...

Janice, THANK YOU!! :) Much as I always love a little bit of fantasy and loads of imagination, I am still thrilled to bits when realism is achieved :). I am afraid my shoes are really very different from the real jutti because the embroidery for the real ones are so fine that it is impossible to recreate at my skill level. UNLESS I find the right trimmings. :).

India truly has the most delicate, detailed and fascinating trimmings that I have ever seen. Somehow, the artisans are able to reproduce any kind of art prevalent in India into little 1 inch or less ribbons. I really believe now that if I have the right ribbons/ trimmings/ laces, I can make 90% of what is needed for my Indian houses. :)

Sans! said...

Ewa :), I wondered if I have truly become more patient. You know when you are enjoying what you do, time passes so fast you don't really feel your patience tested :). My mum and some others will tell you that I am an extremely impatient person :).

I think most of us don't like the "waiting for the paint to dry" part. I have just learnt ONLY yesterday (really!), that if I allow the 1st coat of paint to dry properly, I can achieve a much better result than if I rush the 2nd coat, especially when you are distressing/aging something.

Anyway, I know your work and have no doubt at all that you have way more patience than I do. :)

Sans! said...

Helene!!!!! :) You know dearie, it is soooo goooooooood to have you come over for a comment chat again :).

You are way too kind with your compliments!! Poor Rosanna, :). Her work is seriously so way ahead that there is no way in hell that I can ever catch up. I am likely to go blind first. I have said it before, her stitching is so fine that it feels like photocopy rather than embroidery :).

You know Helene, I used to be so crazy about shoes, I even bought reference books about them! haha. I googled Antique Norwegian handmade shoes to no avail :(.

In the Asian society, be it Indians, Chinese and even the Straits Malay (Malay mixed with Chinese), embroidery skill was a highly valued accomplishment for a girl. For the Straits Chinese (Peranakans), beaded shoes especially were the true testament to a girl's ability which of course corresponded proportionately to her marriageability factor. A potential mother-in-law looks at a prospect's beaded shoes to decide whether she was good enough for her son! I think it was a protest to these anachronistic views (as late as my mother's time) that I never took to sewing and cooking early on :).

Btw, I also owned a reference book on Peranakan beadwork..LOL!

Sans! said...

Muchas gracias Carmen :). Eres demasiado generoso con sus elogios!

Sans! said...

Eva, it is now 1.40pm here , a hot balmy Sunday afternoon and I am feeling a little sleepy ! :).

We ran along the beach this morning and I picked some seashells which made me thought of you because of your gifts the last time :).

You will really meet my mum and dad one day, I hope :).

I took a closer look of Ro's shoes and I think they are also good for reflexology! :)She is way ahead of her time :). No wonder you want a pair! lol

Sans! said...

Thank you, Caterina for your eloquent and kind words :). I like very much your Indian Arabian Nights :):):)!!

Sans! said...

Oh Betsy, you should come in a bottle or from the tap so that whenever I need some cheering, your pleasing words will flow out and make me happy! LOL

Actually these shoes are real easy to make with the right material. If you look at the picture of the trimmings closely, you will see that ALL the embroidered parts are from the trimming. (Look at the white one)I counted 6 rows of sequins and then cut out a small piece of the ribbon. That's for 1 shoe. You then cut a widened "U" (starting from 1 sequin at the side and 2 at the top, then back to 1 again) from the bottom of the ribbon and this part is for the back of the shoe. The rest is for the upper. I then glued the parts to the metal base I used (after painting them brown) at the 3rd pic from the top.No rocket science ;p !

By all means, let me know if you need more explanation or even pics. I can send you those by email :).

Susanne said...

Sans, you are so very productive, you don´t show us one pair of shoes, you choose 20! I love the shoes, it´s great work, it must have taken you hours and hours.I must admit that I envy you your acess to materials fx these beautiful trimmings, I would go crazy buying and buying ;-0)
Love, Susanne

Taenia said...

These shoes are soooooo lovely!

Fantastic :)

Hugs, Taenia

Sans! said...

You know Susanne , I used to lament that there are no dedicated dollhouse shops here but we really make up for it with accessibility to certain materials :):).

By the way, I did think you will like these trimmings ;).

And last but not least, Walter's headache is over. He's found a nice and proper place for each and every pair of his collection. Ro has ordered though that there be no more new ones for him ! haha

Sans! said...

Thank you, Taenia! So happy to see you here! :):)

dale said...

The shoes are fabulous! Reminds me of the twelve dancing princesses. Do you know that story, Sans? :)

I can't wait to see the shoes in person and I wanna go to that store!!! :) pweeeze! :)

Liberty Biberty said...

The shoes look fantastic! And what great patience you have to make so many!!

Norma said...

When you're on a roll there's no stopping you Sans! You have enough shoes there to start a stall in the bazaar! Great little creations as always :)

Sans! said...

Dale, you mean the Barbie version of 12 dancing princesses? :) You know, I always get this story mixed up with the Hans Christian Andersen's fable about the princess and her 11 brothers who were turned into swans.

Yes, I remembered that the 12 pairs of dancing shoes for the 12 princesses were all in different colours too.

I think by the time you are here, I will have at least completed the room where these shoes are kept :). I must say I really like this room so far:). It will be where Ro and OM work and is sort of Ro's sanctuary.

I will definitely bring you to the shop. You are very lucky :) It has taken me almost 1 1/2 years before I found these wonderful trims being sold here. Sleepy old lady at the shop told me they had just started selling trimmings. Thought I had to go to India every time I need the right ribbons..haha!

Sans! said...

Thank you, Mercedes :):). It is funny how everyone now thinks I am patient. Must tell mummy! :)

Sans! said...

LOL! Norma,I already have a bazaar :). I don't think I will be making shoes anytime soon although I know I will make new ones later.

I have recently revisited some of the things I had done, like the hookah, this time , it is a home made , tribal hookah fashioned after a real one I saw in a book. And the low stool which I had started last night and hope to finish by this week. :)

MY show is on tomorrow :):). Dancing for a benefit ..haha! Could that be why I made these shoes? hmmmmm

Piikko said...

What can I say?
You really could start the bazar!
Fantastic!Fabulous!Lovely!Colourful! Regards, piikko

Sans! said...

Such a darling you are Piikko :):). Thank you! Now off to the technical run ..ciao!!

dale said...

Must bring you the story of the twelve dancing princeses :)

It is very late, let's say I've been dancing with good old friends. :)

I want to know more about your dancing benefit, spoil me :)

ahhh... my daughter has just returned from her travels, night! :)

dale said...

night, night. :)

Marion said...

I've only discovered your blog today. Wonderful, and what I like most is your inclusion of a bit of history. Now I need to find time somehow, to go and read your whole blog........ I might just have to do it in bits and bites ;-) I'll be back!!!! LOL And thanks for your kind comment on my blog.

Sans! said...

Dear Marion :) WELCOME!!! I think this blog is way too long to read from Day 1 ! LOL

Also. there are more times when it is about myths and mirth :). So be careful what you believe :):):)!

Sans! said...

Dale, the press release for this concert is here :

dale said...

Jitterbugging? :)

Sans! said...

Nahhhh. we are dancing to this ancient song by Pat Benatar called "We Belong". The jitterbug reference was because we used their dance room for free! :):). The unofficial name for this dance group is "Girlfriends"..LOL!

Meli said...

Sans, what a lovely post!!! I love to read your comments which are increasing my knowledge and the photos of the lovely and colorful shoes are great!!!
That is a patient!!!
Thanks again Sans,

Carmen L said...

That most beautiful shoes! love me with all the colors. Susan Forgive me for not participating much, but I have to care for my ailing mother and takes a few days it's not right and I take up time for the thumbnails.
A big hug artist!

Katie said...

Oh Susan! These are amazing! Love all the colors..... Still can't get over how far you've come! Glad to see you trying new things:)


cockerina said...

Hello Sans! beautiful shoes!!!
on my blog, I am organizing an international swap:
"Holiday swap"
you want to join?
kisses, Caterina

Sans! said...

Meli, the Queen of baby Shoes, I hail thee :). Thank you, my dear and it's nice to hear compliments about the photos. I am pushed to improve in that area because I am surrounded by people who are soooooooooo serious about photography! haha

Sans! said...

Ooooh Carmen :( . Not that long ago, I too had a scare with my mum but all is well now :). So I know how you feel . My prayers are with you and mummy. You take care of yourself too! Email if you need anything, dear!

Sans! said...

Katie ! :) It is really nice when someone who had been with me in the early days of my journey here gives me feedback :). I am constantly surprise as well at what I come up with sometime. I think after a while, "thinking mini" - how I can mini everything- becomes almost a way of life. haha :)

You yourself are experiencing an incredible burst of creative energy! I am falling for your little mouse project ! What's with mouse mansions/castle/ house that just bring out the ultimate cute factor?!

Sans! said...

Catarina! For your birthday, ANYTHING! :) I go sign up the swap now ! :)

Snowfern said...

grr. i realise that my comment got swallowed up again, but i think i've figured it out. i accidentally closed the tab to your blog BEFORE i commented (since the comment window is a popup one)!!!!


can't wait to see them in person!! if only Yotsuba's feet weren't permanently in sneakers, i'd palm one off ya :(

dale said...

I think we need to make more shoes! lol ;)

Sans! said...

Cindy, cut off her feet and make her new ones ! Then she can have as many shoes as Walter! :)

Sans! said...

Dale, we'll fit a "Tribute to Jimmy Choo" night where instead of going out dancing in expensive shoes, we stay at home and make 'em :):).

Meli said...

Sans, thanks for the tittle!!!
Your are great!!!!

Slipstitches said...

Absolutely gorgeous pedi-works-of -art, I love it! I lived in the Asian continent for awhile and had many pairs of a similar shoe we called "kusas" and they were very comfy shoes too. I'm looking for a nice pair here in uae to slosh around in during this summer. Your work is absolutely exquisite and I'm sharing this post on my blog's next post (hope you won't mind).

Sans! said...

Hehe, Hail again, Meli, Queen and Mother of all Baby Shoes !

Sans! said...

Oh yes, Stitch, I did find out that kusa or khussa sandals are those beaded ones for women that are made in other parts of Pakistan or India.

I am thrilled that someone from the Middle East is reading my blog ! :) Totally flattered that you are sharing this post. Thank you for informing me :):).

Jean Day said...

So creative!!!! What a wonderful find in the materials, the leather is great too. They look fabulous. They are really fortunate to have you as their shoe maker. I always have the feeling you have a real passion for every aspect of your miniatures.

Sans! said...

Thank you Jean :). I do love making almost everything. And yes, when you find the right material, you truly can make almost everything. After dabbling in miniatures for more than a year now, I realise that the patience is not so much in the making but in the finding of the right material. I have a feeling I will love clay too , eventually :).

Those are not leather, I am afraid. They are metal shoes after painting. With the metal shoe as a base, the shape of the shoe is already there. The rest is really just cut the fabric and glue :).

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