Cradled in the lap of majestic Western Himalayas, Chamba is one of the most picturesque places in entire HP. Along with its natural beauty, Chamba is endowed with rich cultural legacy which can be best described in its wooden carved temples, life size metal sculptures, world famous paintings, antique Chamba Rumaal and centuries old traditional handcrafted leather Chamba Chappal.
Chamba artisans have inherent sense of beauty which can turn simple functional piece of object in to beautiful piece of art. It’s almost as if the gods blessed the people of Chamba with the most agile fingers.
Chamba Chappal is an indigenous crafts of this region. It is vivid, full of tradition, intricately handcrafted by local Chamba artisans, who pour in their individual creativity, passion, efforts and love to work. Some of these Chappals are plain; other variants are elaborately embroidered with silken threads of various colors.
How it began
Chamba Chappal (Slippers) is a tradition that date back to the times of King Sahil Varman (early Ninth century). When he got married to the princess of Nurpur, the Chappal makers came as a dowry in the service of queen. For long time these chappals were worn by kings and queens only. But it was after the British popularized it and protected the art that it became the product of public use.
Since then the local artisans, with their unique craftsmanship qualities, which they have inherited from their older generations, helps in keeping alive this tradition.
How it is handcrafted
Tilla few decades ago, these were made out of locally cured leather, but today leather comes from different part of India, the original designs are maintained. These are Handcrafted leather made chappals that come in natural leather in different colors. In general these Chappals are made by men but the embroidery is done by women. Embroidery is done on a separate piece of felt using brightly colored silk yarns known as Chamba Kadhai and a hooked needle. Gold and silver threads known as russi tilla are used. These embroidered pieces are then pasted or stitched on chappals. Even the stitching of these Chappals is done with leather strands.
The unique thing in these chappals is that there is least stitching involved. Various parts are cut in a way that they either fit in to each other or are stuck using the solution. Innovations are being done according to the market needs without losing its originality.
The Traditional Chamba Chappal was ‘ Nokdar’ (with pointed tip) for both ladies and gents. But the according to the changing demands artisans have innovate dozens of designs. These are mainly: Vshape, fish design, pathu, teen patti wali, ek patti wali, chandni and balu for women and nokdar and bina nok wali sandal type for men. The designs are generally inspired by leaves and flowers.
Chamba Chappal is a beautiful representation of rich art and tradition of HP. Artisans of Chamba are continuously putting efforts to infuse a fresh lease of life into this dying art.