— Dawn
— Dawn

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Dera Ismail Khan is famous for traditional handmade sandals locally known as bund and kheri chappal but this art of shoemaking is dying fast.

However, some shoemakers, who inherited the art from ancestors, are trying to keep it alive.

According to them, Derawal chappal is made in four stages with the first and most difficult being the preparation of the upper part by cutting a piece of leather according to the design.

In the next stage, the footwear’s sole is made.

There follows first the fitting of foam with the chappal’s upper part and then its manual stitching with the sole.

A shoe goes through the hands of many craftsmen and gets ready in around three days.

The cow and buffalo leather is used to make the chappal. The sandal’s upper part is made of cow leather, while the buffalo leather is used to make the sole.

The chappal carries a small strip of leather laden with embroidery golden threads.

These tillay wali sandals as they’re called in the local lingo are sent to Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and even Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Ustad Abdul Bashir, who has been making Derawal chappal for 50 years, told Dawn that the popularly of nylon and rexine footwear had badly affected his work.

He also said the closure of many leather factories in Lahore and Karachi had surged leather prices and thus, causing the chappal rates to go up.

The shoemaker said the demand for Derawal chappal had reduced forcing workers to go for other job.

He said the Derawal chappal stayed warm in the winter and cool in the summer, didn’t harm the skin of its users, and was durable.

“Today, our city has a handful of this chappal’s makers,” he said.

Mr Bashir said the art for traditional shoemaking was dying due to the rising prices and the government’s indifference.

“For the revival of this art, the government should set up leather factories in Dera Ismail Khan for the supply of high-quality leather to artisans at low prices,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2021

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