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An amalgamation of the ancient and the modern through footwear in India. Paduka, antique and holy footwear worn during the olden days have been a great source of inspiration in today’s footwear. To understand the ethical, cultural, and rural aspects of foot and footwear in Indian culture. Over thousands of years, diversity has flourished resulting in the elevation of creativity across the country in various states, in footwear and as well as fashion which is intriguing a wide spectrum of audiences in today’s scenario. Through the study of footwear in the past and present, we hope to contribute to a specific field of knowledge of the traditions and customs of the rich and the complex subcontinent. This paper is presented in order for future possibilities and connections to our roots.


There are several references to footwear in Indian literature. The religious and cultural significance of feet in Indian tradition is unique. The feet are considered to be sacred and therefore objects of veneration. The indigenous and etymological references to feet and ankle ornaments have been traced from the period of RIGVEDA {4000BC}. Almost paradoxically, the sentiment of humility and submissiveness are rooted in the idea that feet are the humblest, impure part of the body and therefore may command respect by those who surrender their ego to venerable.

Nonetheless, over the course of millennials, a rich vibrant variety of footwear was created in India, and this included sandals, barouches, mules, slippers, shoes, boots, socks, and stockings. These were made from a number of raw materials such as cow, buffalo or goat hide, silk, wool or cotton fiber and, various grasses. The very typical Indian toe–knob sandals, known as paduka, were made of such materials as wood, ivory, brass, silver, semi-precious stone such as jade, or a combination of these. From ancient times, wearing leather footwear was taboo in India because Hindus consider the cow as the most sacred animal resulting in the usage of sandals mostly made out of the wood, plant, and metals.


The word occurs in Vedic vocabulary in the sense of small feet. The word is derived from the Sanskrit word “pada” meaning foot which is India’s archetypal footwear. The word describes the toe knob sandals of holy men. These are majorly made of wood, ivory, or metal. The paduka is also known as kharawan or karom. Padukas are made in a great variety of shapes, most notably the fish, hourglass, and foot sometimes indicating toes.

Toe knob sandals are usually associated with Indian acetic, mendicant, a holy man “sadhu” who wanders from village to village. They are ideally suited to the Indian climate open and airy for the hot seasons they are made out of enduring materials and in course of extended periods of use, perfectly fulfilling their function of protecting the foot against burning hot roads, thorny and stony footpaths of rural India.

The significance of paduka in Hinduism is connected to Ramayana where Bharata (brother of Lord Rama) requests for pious and pure paduka of Lord Rama. They were placed on the throne and were universally worshiped by Bharata (Satchidanandha Utsav), in the absence of Lord Rama until the deity returned from 14 years of exile.

During an archaeological excavation in west Bengal footwear of 200 BC with raised heels and floral motifs resembling padukas were found. Chola period (11 to 12th century) has witnessed padukas of Lord Rama being worshipped. Mahavyutpatti (800 to 815 CE), which contains Sanskrit and Tibetan terms has mentioned various footwear including Padukas’ as Padavestanika. Ajanta cave paintings (4 to 5th century) also portray people wearing padukas and boots.

Paduka or kadau used from ancient century.

In the 6th and 7th century a famed poet named Bana from the kingdom of Harshvardhan describes the attire of Hindu merchants who predominantly wore padukas for feet.


Platforms attained attention in 1970’sbut, our ancestors wore them predominately in India several centuries before. Platforms/high heeled sandal resembles the ancient padukas. The material shifted from wood to leather for the front and back heel region of the padukas looks similar to that of platforms.

Padukas being the oldest form in India have evolved into toe knob sandals which are mostly worn by strength and flexibility. The structure of paduka has changed over time with many added features like the strap in the instep area for a better grip with many decorations on it like beaded embroidery and with different materials like elastic, leather, cloth, etc.


Jutti one of the most antique shoes of India was first patronized by the Mughals and those belonged to a higher class. These are also called mojaris. Men's shoes have extended tip nokh curved upwards like traditional mustaches. Women juttis are devoid of the back part near the ankle. They are crafted with golden and colorful beads and threads. During the early period, juttis were worn by zamindars, chowdaries, nawabs, and jaghirdars. Over the shoes were invariably embroidered with smooth gold zari, zardozi, and Salma and Sitara an elaborate embroidery style featuring gold wire, sequins, and frequently the application of beads pearls, beetle wings, and precious stones.


  1. The pattern of the upper and often a lining is traced on the dyed camel skin and cut out with a rapi.

  2. The embroider makes a hole in the upper with a pointed hook called Aari, and the yarn is drawn through the hole with a blunt needle.

  3. If used, the upper lining is sewn to the top line edge on a sewing machine with two right faces together. The seam allowance is trimmed and turned to the inside. a narrow leather binding is sewn to the top line edge.

  4. The sole is cut from a buffalo hide using a pattern. The leather is between 1.8 and 2mm thick. Two or three layers are bound together with a mallet to make the leather smooth.

  5. A heel of 1 or 2 layers of buffalo hide is cut out and glued to the sole.

  6. An insole is cut out from thick leather with a knife .it is glued to the sole construction and painted red and then sole, heel, and insole are nailed together.

  7. The sole construction is stitched along the edges with twisted white cotton thread.

  8. The prepared upper is turned in and stitched to the sole with the same thread.

  9. The back of the upper is stitched together and reinforced on the inside with a strip of leather.

  10. A last is inserted and left for few days until the vamp attains the desired shape.

  11. Extra leather is trimmed off the bottom and any protruding cotton thread is hammered flat.


Modern shoe designers have transformed the ancient austere-looking functional footwear into a style statement with a touch of panache. Juttis are one such traditional footwear that has retained its shape style and heritage through all these years of civilization. These juttis are predominantly manufactured by the authentic shoemakers of Jodhpur where there is a stronghold of the Mughal Empire. Jutties are the ethnic alternative to ballerina shoes popular over the world. Several countries like the USA, United Kingdom, and Canada, etc have been fascinated with Indian footwear for the last many years. Many shoe brands have copied juttis in their own designs and craftsmanship. The construction method stayed the same as the years went by.

Idea Sketch for Jutti.


The existence of this Kolhapur chappal started in Kolhapur a town in Maharashtra state, these handmade leather footwear are tanned by using vegetable dyes in the Kolhapur which started as early as the 13th century the history recorded, designed by the Saudhager family. The shoemakers use buffalo tanned for the soles of the chappals, most of which are obtained from Kanpur. Kolhapur footwear is mainly available in 3 colors- natural, oil, and polish.

This footwear was made of thick buffalo skin and its sole weighed up to 2kgs suitable for bearing high temperatures and rocky terrains.


  1. A pattern is traced on buffalo hide and the sole is cut out.

  2. An insole is cut from cowhide using a pattern and additional pieces of leather are glued to the leather on either side. These are trimmed with a rapi to form the kan, to which the instep strap will be attached.

  3. The insole and sole are glued together and hammered with a metal mallet to smooth the leather.

  4. The heel is traced out on buffalo hide with a pointed tool, cut and pasted to the sole assembly. The heel might have single or double layers

  5. The heel, sole, insole are stitched together at the edge using fine straps of leather

  6. The upper consisting constructing of a toe ring, the main strap on the instep, narrow mid-side straps are prepared. The toe ring is formed of skived cow hide folded stitched with fine leather strips. Using a pattern, the instep strap is traced onto cowhide, cut out, decorated with a leather strip.

  7. The mid and side straps are made of goatskin strips braided together by pulling one then the other alternately through tiny slits made in opposite strip

  8. The upper components are stitched together with a needle and edges are trimmed with a knife.

  9. Slits are cut in the insole for the toe ring. One end of the prepared ring straps is inserted into one slit and drawn through the other, then tucked into the first slit and stitched together

  10. Similar slits are cut in the insole for the mid and side strap. These braids are drawn through the slits and then knotted to secure them

  11. The end of the instep strap is inserted between layers of kan flaps and stitched in place with leather strips

idea sketch of Kolhapuri Chappal

Result & Discussion:

The demand for these types of footwear is surprisingly high. The demand for Kolhapuri footwear is summed up to 2 crores and slightly more in India and globally. Many countries have been exporting juttis from India for their design appeal. This is quite interesting encouragement and testimonial in hand with the evergreen Indian work of art. This gives the upcoming and indigenous footwear designers a wide spectrum of work and recognition for their work unlike in the olden days, where they dwelled in disgrace.


The antiquity of footwear evolved through centuries of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain scriptures as well as sculptures, coins, and paintings. Footwear satisfied the demand for both luxury and necessity in ancient times. As per the religion, many superstitions were clubbed along and is us devoir to break them, bring them back to life helping people learn from it, inspire from it as well as preserve them as it is one of the most uncommon wealth, we can be proud of today!

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