Friday, October 29, 2010

Goin' Back To Basics

What’s the largest use of rawhide? My immediate response was, “To make cowhide rugs and wall decorations.” To confirm my answer, I did a search on the Internet and discovered (horrors upon horrors) I was wrong. Worse, I had to agree with the answer I found. What is it? To protect the cow from the elements, and also to keep it's internal organs from falling out. (Bet the ten-year-olds love it.)

Even so, I began wondering about how far back the use of cowhides went. The answer to that one was easier — back to the eviction of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. But I don’t think those were cowhides.

It turns out that civilizations have used leather since their beginnings. Fresh rawhide needs some cleaning and refining. Ancient civilizations let nothing go to waste. They domesticated and raised cattle herds. When the need arose or at designated times according to their cultures, they harvested a cow or two. Sinew became thread. Bones became tools and implements. Hides became clothing, shoes, blankets, tents, water sacks, packing bags and drum covers. And it wasn’t just cowhide. They supplemented with the skins from all the animals they hunted.

Back in 5,000 to 3,000 BC, the Sumerians in Mesopotamia used the leather they made to craft long dresses and diadems for women. The Assyrians preferred leather for footwear and wineskins; they inflated it for use as raft floats. Ancient India innovators processed the leaver in a style known as Morocco. The Egyptians became real leather artisans and crafted tools, weapons, and simple ornaments.

Next were the Phoenicians and the Romans with their ornately garbed generals in leather breastplates. Each civilization built on the use and skill base of the previous.

Early on, there were problems. One was the way the skins became stiff at low temperatures and rotted in the heat. They solved these through trial and error in what turns out to be one of the oldest crafts known to man—the process known as tanning.

The first rudimentary tanning process is documented in Homer’s Illiad and various other Assyrian writing. This too improved with time. When modern archaeologists excavated the ruins of Pompeii, they discovered a tannery with all the preserved.

Notice that each civilization found a way to use finished cowhide for numerous uses, and often in decoration—whether they did it themselves or used as a cowhide rug or wall hanging.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do any of the hard work it takes to process a hide. We just have to go online and visit Rawhide Conmpany. And we can select from a number of colors and patterns of natural cowhide rugs and cowhide decor.

No comments:

Post a Comment