Available in simple shades as well as bright colours with attractive embroidery, the jutti is now making waves in cities like London and New York, writes Anuradha Shukla
The juttis from Patiala and not Kasur (now in Pakistan) rule the popularity charts not only here but also around the world. These 'pieces of art' are an inseparable part of Punjabi attire. Available in simple shades as well as bright colours with attractive embroidery, the juttis rule the heart of ethnically chic Punjabis everywhere. It is now making waves in cities like London and New York. None other than craftsmen in the streets of Patiala are fanning the rage for the Punjabi jutti among its newfound fans.
The humble shops at Top Khana Mod and Churianwala Bazar have now become export stops for traders from cities like New Delhi, who are busy making big bucks taking these juttis abroad. Ruling hearts of residents of countries like the UK, the USA, South Africa and even Korea, the jutti, is undergoing its share of changes, too, to suit the tastes of connoisseurs in these lands.
Made of buffalo skin and goat skin (despite Maneka Gandhi!), the jutti has come of age from the silver and gold hand-embroidered juttis still made in the Muktsar and Fazilka belt of Punjab to countless colours and embroidery patterns it has acquired now.
The most flexible of all footwear famous in the region, the jutti is made distinctly in states like Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The juttis made in Patiala by far win the crown for the sheer variety of designs, shapes and patterns available. "The jutti can be combined with a jean, suit and even a sari or with an anklet on your feet", says Sarika, a college student. "Going by the price (Rs 125 to 1,500), you can have as many pairs and have fun the funky ethnic way", she gleams.
"The juttis made in Patiala caught the eyes of traders in Delhi and they decided to sell these to Punjabi NRIs among other export items some three years back", says Sandeep Narula, who has one of the oldest shops in Churianwala Bazar. "The samples disappeared fast once they were put on the shelves of shoe stores run by Indians as well as foreigners. Of late the latest rage in New York is the Punjabi jutti", says Narula. Though the simple flat jutti suits summer wear, sales go down only in snowy winters, says Narula.
"The Punjabi jutti covers your feet like second skin and you never have to worry about it breaking because of flexibility. It comes from the refinement the buffalo leather is given at the workshop and makes it score over its counterpart from Rajasthan in terms of flexibility and softness as compared to the hard camel leather, Mangat Ram, an artisan, is quick to tell you. The same quality with features like a cushioned sole for comfort is popular in the UK and the USA, he adds.
Beads, sippi, sitara, dabka and even the bejewelled stone look is in with these juttis getting popular and increasingly accepted by the young abroad. As the local tastes have changed to duller shades nowadays, the UK and the US markets demand more flashy and brighter designs.
"Maharaja Ranjit Singh is said to have got the jutti made for his Rani from Patiala and the craft flourished under his patronage", says Satish Kumar who heard it from his buzurgs. Peasants beat up buffalo skin and make it suitable for making the sole of the jutti. The upper portion of the jutti is made with softer goatskin. The most traditional of the designs you can still find in the city is the unembroidered plain jutti in skin colour. To add to its looks, the tilla (gold thread) work was added, says Kamal. For daily wear, there was the plain simple jutti for men and women while for a formal do the juttis were hand embroidered in silver and gold tilla. The Khussa jutti with a pointed top was for men while the juttis for women were the simple round edges at the top.
While the men prepared the leather, the designing was always done by the women artisans and no wonder the embroidery patterns readily transferred on to the juttis. So now we have the most popular design abroad of embroidery with shining sitare in heart-shaped juttis known as Lucky jutti in this bazar, says Satish Kumar. "The jutti covered with synthetic silk cloth and in sandle shape is also getting accepted abroad", he adds. If you are still wondering how to find the best jutti, go for a jutti with a thicker sole and a hard base and don't worry about it biting your feet for some time because your leather shoes do the same to you, don't they.