Friday, January 4, 2013

Leather and Natural Hides Through The Middle Ages

In the eighth century, Spain, under Moorish domination, perfected a way to tan horse hides in a process we now call Cordovan leather. Actually, Cordovan is a misuse of the original Cordoba, the city in Spain where the process was initiated. Cordovan is also a color used for describing a reddish-black finish. The leather crafts and finishing processes continued to flourish and evolve through the history.

Approximately four centuries later, Marco Polo (1254-1324) knew how to walk in shoe leather and how to sit in a leather saddle. For 24 years he traveled the Silk Road through Asia, beyond Mongolia, the whole of China, and even visited part of Siberia. Polo became a close friend and confidant of Kublai Khan (1214-1294) and documented his travels in Il Milione. He observed that the world of leather stretched as far as did civilization. The Mongols made flasks, blankets, masks, and caps using the same tanning methods employed until this past century.

In the fourteenth century, Europeans began combining leather with wood. They made chairs, sedans, and benches in what can only be described as an art form. Soon, leather was used as upholstery. Leather crafting moved to high art in the construction of jewel cases and boxes. These highly prized home decor items and home accessories have transcended cultures and time.

Today, we have more options, fabrics, and materials than at any time in history. We also use leather and natural cowhides for more purposes than ever. While a nice pair of cow hide shoes can be stylish and comfortable, there’s nothing more lasting than a beautiful hair-on cowhide hanging on the wall and matching the one used as a rug. You don’t need to travel to Mongolia or Spain for fine leather hides. Just click your mouse over to the Rawhide Company and pick a few suited to your tastes.

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