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Artisan Stories: Leather Co-operative, India

Leather Co-operative, India


Our leather storage buckets are crafted by a co-operative of skilled leather workers in Rajasthan. The group is entirely owned and run by the community, with each member owning one share.

Rajasthan is India's largest state, located in the North-West. It's one of most economically disadvantaged states in India and youth unemployment is particularly high. Despite these challenges, Rajasthan has a strong artistic heritage and handicraft tradition. It is famous for the beautiful 'Pink City' of Jaipur and 'Blue City' of Jodhpur.

Leather


The traditional process for turning animal hides into durable leather has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. First, the skins are soaked in natural ammonia and scraped smooth. The hides are then dyed with tree bark and plant extracts. Finally, they are laid in the sun to dry.

How is it made?


Each leather bucket takes one skilled artisan a day to make from start to finish. The leather pieces are cut out using templates and stitched by hand. The artisans sew with very finely-cut strips of leather and the stitches are visible in the finished bucket, so you can see the skill that goes into the craft. Finally, handles are attached with sold brass rings.

How your purchase improves lives


This project is run as a co-operative so every artisan is equal, regardless of age, gender or job role. All members have a say in how profits are invested in developing their enterprise and improving community services. This sustainable approach means the project is flourishing and now supports more than 40 families.

"I am sixty years old and, after thirty eight years, I can say I am a master of my trade! I enjoy working here because I can make very good quality goods and I like earning money making something I find enjoyable" Harlal

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Image credits: Nkuku