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Santiniketan Leather Cluster, West Bengal

Noble laureate, Shri Rabindranath Tagore is revered by one and all for his literary feats but what ver

Santiniketan Leather Cluster, West Bengal

Noble laureate, Shri Rabindranath Tagore is revered by one and all for his literary feats but what very few know is that his contribution to the economy of Santiniketan and to the growth of one of the most vibrant sectors of India is just as great. One of the forerunners of ‘swadeshi’ movement during the times of freedom struggle, Santiniketan paved the way towards the belief that local made handicrafts is and shall always be one of the major pillars of self-dependence and community growth. The Santiniketan leather goods cluster is in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. The cluster is ideally situated at 150 kms from Kolkata and is well-connected by road and railway. This vast stretch makes it an amazing bed for innovations and creativity to germinate. The craft created here is called embossed leather craft. Embossed leather products are made using vegetable tanned goatskin leather. Every piece is embossed using a metal die, after which it is individually painted by hand using spirit colours. Each product is then constructed by hand. The craft person’s meticulous eye for detail makes every product unique. As the leather is used, the colours become deeper and the leather becomes softer until it becomes an integral part of your life. Embossed leather work on goatskin has been a specialty of West Bengal since the 1940s. Rabindra Nath Tagore and his wife, expert craftsmen came together to revive leather bag and making in an innovative manner. Other materials used to make the final product include paper board of varying thickness, cotton, velvet or silk for lining, foam rubber for padding, natural dyes and spirit, rubber solution, and assorted sundries. The raw materials required for making these elegant leather bags is leather (vegetable tanned), PCP free chemical and vegetable-based pigment colours. The products manufactured and marketed are in the form of coin bags, chappal, handbags, pouches, jewellery boxes, pencil boxes, eyeglass covers, bags, ladies’ bags, cushion covers, wallets, and many more. Santiniketan bags are not only beautiful in appearance but are also very affordable. Each leather batik product takes around 7 days to be finished and that of Block print leather products takes about 4-5 days.

(source: Ministry of tourism, Govt. of Assam website) “The incubated Producer Company will be branded as “SAAR Handloom” endeavors to weave rich tradition of Assam with contemporary designs through Eri and other yarns blended with natural colors to create unique fabric”

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