Thursday, July 15, 2004

Leather Craft

Further information on the history of leather & leathergoods.
The Hunter Gatherers (Early Stone Age Man) as stated in my earlier "Blog" killed for food and used skins for protection from the elements, at this stage the process of tanning leather was not known. That meant that the leather would putrefy in time, that was not a problem to them as they could easily replace it. (I would not have liked to be down wind of them). The first type of tanning developed was Bark Tanning, (a modern form of this is still used today). It is quite feasible that an item or piece of skin was dropped into a small pool of water that contained a fallen tree that was rotting away, the bark of which had turned the water tannic and preserving the leather. it only needed someone to pick it up realize it had been preserved, make the connection that the tree bark and water were the reason. 'Bingo' we had one of our first Tanner.
It is worth noting that the Inuit (Eskimos) chewed the leather as this not only provided some sort of tanning but also softened the leather. My view is that saliva may have some tanning effect but it is also feasible that putrefaction was slowed down by the freezing conditions.
As the evolvement of mankind changed from Hunter gatherers to Farming growing crops and domesticating animals little changed for centuries, clothes were made from material as thread and weaving developed as this provided more flexibility of movement. The trades or crafts of Shoe Making and Saddlery developed as this was the only means of transport available. As early civilization spread and metal developed we passed through the Bronze and Iron ages, leather was still used for horse tack shoes (Mainly a form of sandal) The Roman soldiers used it for hinges of linkage between their metal armour. It was also used as belts with loops for swords, hinges for doors on early houses, etc. But still no leathergoods as such. 
To Be Continued 


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