Kids Corner


Imelda Marcos Would've Drooled


It's regal. It's chic. It's affordable: crafted in the bazaars of Patiala and Amritsar, the traditional Punjabi footwear is gaining popularity around the world.


Jutti Kasuri, pairin na poori, Hayo Rabba, ve sanny turna peya ("O Lord, consider my plight! I've had to walk in these ill-fitting juttis from Kasur").

Thus goes the famous line of the Punjabi folk song, made immortal by the inimitable Surinder Kaur.

The damsel in the folk song may be having trouble walking in ill-fitting juttis, but the jutti itself has walked far and wide and
has reached distant lands, thanks to the far-flung Sikh diaspora and the jutti's newfound fans among the locals everywhere.

The juttis from Patiala and Amritsar (in India), and not Kasur (now in Pakistan), top 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 now rule the heart of ethnically chic Punjabis at home and abroad. They are now making waves in cities like London and New York, and craftsmen from across Punjab are fanning the rage.

The humble shops in Patiala's Top Khana Mod and Churianwala Bazaar, for example, have now become export stops for traders from cities like New Delhi, who are busy making big bucks taking the product abroad. Beloved by residents of countries like the U.K., the U.S.A., Canada, 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 and goat skins, the jutti has come of age from the silver and gold hand-embroidered (zari) ones still crafted in the Muktsar and Fazilka belt of Punjab, to the countless colours and embroidery patterns it has acquired now.

The most supple and versatile of all footwear popular in the region, the jutti  -  in some areas, or in some forms, also known as the khussa  -  is distinctive to the Punjab on both sides of the border  -  in Pakistan, it is to be found all the way from Multan to Peshawar, and beyond. It is also part of the garb in the Indian states of 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 jeans, a suit, even a sari, or with anklets", says Sarika, a college student. "Going by the price (Rs. 125 to 1,500)  -  roughly, Rs. 50 equals US $1  -  you can own as many pairs as you wish, 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 Punjabis in the diaspora, among other exports from India some three years back", says Sandeep Narula, who has one of the oldest shops in Churianwala Bazaar.

"The samples disappeared fast, once they were put on the shelves of Punjabi, Indian and mainstream shoe stores. The latest rage in New York is the Punjabi jutti", adds Narula. "Though the simple flat jutti best suits summer wear, sales go down only in snowy winters", he says.

"The Punjabi jutti covers your feet like a second skin and you never have to worry about it breaking because of it is supple. It comes from the refinement the buffalo leather is given in the workshop and makes it score over its counterpart from Rajasthan in terms of pliability and softness, as compared to the hard camel leather," Mangat Ram, an artisan, is quick to tell you. "The same quality, but with added features, such as a cushioned sole for comfort, is popular in the U.K. and the U.S.," he adds.

Beads, sippi, sitara, dabka and even the bejeweled look, are increasingly in vogue. While the local tastes in Punjab have changed to more sober shades nowadays, the U.K. and U.S. markets demand more flashy and brighter designs.

"Maharaja Ranjit Singh is said to have got the jutti made for his Rani, from Patiala. The craft flourished under his patronage", says Satish Kumar, who was told these stories by his buzurgs (elders). "Peasants beat up buffalo skin and make it suitable for shaping the sole of the jutti. The upper portion of the jutti is fashioned with softer goatskin. The most traditional of the designs you can still find in the city is the unembroidered plain jutti, in natural skin colour. To add to its looks, the tilla (metallic thread) work was added", explains 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 toe, was for men, while those for women were simply round-edged at the front.

While the men prepared the leather, the designing was always done by the women artisans, thus transferring embroidery patterns to the product.

"The most popular design abroad today is the one embroidered with shining sitare in heart-shaped juttis, known as ‘Lucky jutti' in this bazaar", says Satish Kumar. "The jutti, covered with synthetic silk cloth and in a sandal shape, is also getting accepted abroad", he adds.

If you are still wondering how to find the best juttis, go for one with a thicker sole and a hard base. Don't worry about them biting your feet for a bit, because they quickly shape comfortably around them.

[Courtesy: The Tribune]

Bottom photo  -  Courtesy: S & Y

Conversation about this article

1: Bakhsish Singh (Brampton, Canada), June 12, 2007, 11:41 PM.

Its a nice article showing an aspect of Punjabi culture.

2: Ben Clarke (London, England), August 08, 2007, 11:10 AM.

Would anyone know of a good stockist of jutti sandals in London, England?

3: Amanpreet Randhawa (Patiala, Punjab), October 31, 2007, 2:53 AM.

The feature is well written. Very informative. Photographs of the latest designs should have been included, though.

4: Manveen (india), July 23, 2016, 1:07 PM.

Very well written. Each and every word and line gives the essence of true Punjab.

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