Did you know that juttis do not have a distinct left or right side? This is because traditional juttis are handcrafted in soft leather that would form to the feet over time.
Originating in the Rajasthani region of India, Juttis were made famous by the Mughal King Saleem Shah. During that era, juttis were much more intricate and ornate in detail, with reports of the maharajas and maharanis wearing juttis embroidered in precious metals, such as gold and silver, and embellished with genuine stones. Also, the use of leather as the main component indicated that juttis were intended for royalty and the upper echelon of Indian society.
As with most Indian crafts, the manufacturing of Juttis was a tedious activity. An assembly group was formed from many different communities, each handling a separate process of manufacturing the shoe. The “chamars” were responsible for processing the raw hides, while the “rangaars” were masters in coloring the hides. Finally, the “mochis” would cut, assemble and add intricate designs to the shoe. And although each of these groups were shunned for working with leather coming from the sacred cow, their craft remained to be highly sought from all over India to be fashion pieces for the royals.
With the word itself derived from Urdu, Juttis have since remained a northern Indian craft. However, the shoe is known by many names, with the style varying upon the region in which it is made. The most popular style, the Punjabi jutti, is designed with ornate patterns of beading, embroidery, and embellishments, matching on both the front and back sides. Nagras, from Rajasthan, are adorned with thread embroidery of flora and fauna – matching the Mughal designs of the region. The fronts of Khussa or Mojari’s, resemble the upturned curl on the moustaches of young Punjabi men. Today, there is a large range of jutti styles available, from plain leather to printed fabrics. Other popular styles include hand-painted, kundan stone-work juttis, and more recently, phulkari style thread-work.
With modernization the older craft of cobbler made juttis has significantly declined. Most juttis can be found cheaply produced in mass quantities, of cheap bonded materials and soles. For some, including myself, the mark of authentic juttis is their craftsmanship by hand and ornate embellishments that would make the Mughal emperors deem them worthy of wearing. I encourage all jutti affaciandos to seek out juttis that are made of pure leather and fine stitching, with fabrics that are of high quality, and decorations that are securely attached to the shoe.
True juttis could withstand wear through many different climates and season and would not deteriorate or lose its shine.