Chamba: The representatives of the National Footwear Institute (NFI) were in town recently to talk to and provide training to the local artisans involved in making the well-known Chamba chappals (sandals) of Himachal Pradesh.
The institute is keen on branding the Chamba chappals and exporting them in distinct modified design forms. Besides the 15-day training, the institute would be providing tool-kits to over 500 artisans in the district.
The striking feature of Chamba chappals is the embroidery done on them. The embroidery is done with silk and golden threads called russi-tilla. The motifs usually are of lantana flower and leaves. The craftsman of this trade use leather of sheep, goat and calf skin for the purpose.
It is said that once upon a time Chamba had no tradition of leather shoes and they wore crude grass shoes. Things changed when a princess of Kangra was married in royal family of Chamba. The princess brought a cobbler family to Chamba as a part of dowry and with this came the culture of leather shoes.
Ajai Sahai, representative of the NFI, hopes to export the new designs to foreign countries and enhance income generation of the local artisans involved in the production of these famous chappals.
Besides the Chamba chappals, even Chamba rumaals (handkerchiefs) too are quite famous.