Fabled Tiledar Juttis of Punjab

Famous Punjabi Juttis (shod) are traditional footwear of Punjab. Tiledar juttis are finely embroidered with Zari and Gold threads. Both men and women wear these. These juttis are made in Patiala where the Mochi (cobbler) Jinngar community of Rajasthan, who have now been settled in Punjab for several generations make this footwear. Earlier they used to make horse saddles and reigns (ghore ka jinn) which were sent to places like Lahore.  The juttis were made in a wide area, from Udaipur to Hindumal Kot in Rajasthan.  The artisans who make these footwear in Jalalabad region of Fazilka migrated from Kasur now in Pakistan after 1947. The craft of making juttis has been practiced in Patiala for the last 300 years by Raijer Mochis, who migrated from Sikal and Shikawat in Rajasthan. Jutti making has been a family tradition for many years.

I remember from growing from children to youth and going to university, we have never eaten the city food. For us it was a simple fare of rural food cooked in the home. Similarly, the juttis made from the rough hide were worn going to fields. For first few days, the new juttis cut the foot badly with blisters which became very painful. Tiledar juttis made from the soft hide were worn by rich people. These days these traditional things have become a fashion. For example, Makki rotis and Sarson da Saag which was the staple food in winters in the villages have become a most sought after food item in the city marriages.

The work is divided between men and womTillaen. While the men do the cutting and stitching jobs, women do the delicate work embroidery. The work of embroidery is called “tillabharai”.  The leather used is generally that of buffalo, cow or goat. It is sourced from Jalandhar, Lucknow and Meerut. Other important raw material required is bark of “Kikar (Acacia Arabica).

The makers of these fabled juttis or shod originally from Kasur now in Pakistan. They migrated to Jalalabad in Fazilka District of Punjab. The link is so strong that many shops are named after Pakistan towns: Deepalpur, Okara, Haveli Lakha and Pakpattan.

Tilla juttis are juttis with gold thread or zari work. There are three types of juttis – Lakhi, Milan and Khosa-differing in structural design.  The density of embroidery varies from region to region within Malwa, where most of the production clusters are located. The Tilla jutti from Abohar is multi coloured and is of light weight compared to other varieties of jutti produced in Malwa.  The Muslim embroiders of Malerkotla are renowned for their fine, dense embroidery of shakarpur (rhombus), sunahare (golden), laharia(waves) and jalli (trellis) motifs that cover the insole as well as the upper portions.

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