Urang Dolma forming the basic loop.
Urang Dolma forming the basic loop.

Diversity and Continuity

Field Study: Vegetable Fibre shoemaking in Leh

In June 1999 researchers for the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation led by Mr. Sanjay travelled to Mamali and the Leh region of Jammu and Kashmir to document traditional shoemaking in those areas. The team was able to observe the making of woven straw shoes for summer wear. Shoemakers Urang Dolma, Asha and their colleagues demonstrated and explained the process of making kapula in the settlement of Karpat, near Leh.

Construction Method

  1. A loop is tied at one end of the plied lambchua cord. The maker sits on the ground with legs outstretched and draws four supplemental loops of equal length through the first loop. She uses her foot as an anchor and her leg as a gauge to control the tension required for interlacing.
  2. Using a second lambchua cord, the maker begins a simple one-over, one-under interlace, starting at the base loop closest to her waist. This forms the heel of the shoe.
  3. The toe is shaped during interlacing to taper to a point. As the shoe takes form, three or four pairs of loops are formed along the sides to make up the quarter and counter of the shoe.
  4. A separate vamp, called a nokh, is prepared using another loop of lambchua held by the maker's foot. These strands are interlaced with dyed and natural charas grass. Approximately thirty-five centimetres of the lambchua cord loop is left exposed, and when the nokh is approximately twenty-five centimetres long, the end is sewn to the inside toe section.
  5. he four original loops forming the 'warp' for the sole are divided and attached with a needle to the supplemental side loops to form the quarter and counter.
  6. Long floats of plied charas grass are used to join the vamp and sides with the help of a needle. These floats form the upper.
  7. In some cases a strip of cotton cloth is attached at the counter to provide additional support for the heel.