by Shuchi Kapoor
6 September 2011
The mojari (traditional Indian shoes) market in Madhopura, Ahmedabad, has blatantly refused to follow trends. It proudly carries forward the legacy and art of traditional Indian shoemaking. And while colorful kohlapuris might have made an entry, the classic royal mojari still stands tall.
The shoemakers working in the market have been there for generations. Velji kaka (Velji uncle), one of them, says his great grandfather started his activity there and he has the duty to respect his efforts and not let his legacy die. His job, he explains, is not just a means to a livelihood; it is a matter of pride before profits.
Most shops are just extensions of shoemakers' homes, small single room attachments accessed by a narrow flight of stairs with a rope for support; everyone in the family is involved with the mojari making process.
The making of mojaris dates back to the period of kings and queens. Once they were embroidered with real gold and silver threads and embellished with precious gems and pearls, which are now replaced by artificial materials. The shoes are made of buffalo, cow, camel or vegetable tanned leather soles. The top is bonded to the sole with cotton thread, which makes the shoe more resistant and adds to the aesthetic
A pair of mojaris is the final touch to provide royal elegance and great finish to your traditional Indian attire and easier to match with Indian clothes than western types of shoes. Choose an embroidered pair, a heavily embellished one with bling and stones, or the classic the plain dark tanned mojari with tiny red flowers.
Mind you, the mojari wasn’t crafted with a left-right distinction so it might feel odd initially. But once your feet take over, it surely brings an aura to one’s gait, however it takes a few days for the shoe to lose its stiffness and take the shape of your feet.