After returning from our latest trip to Nepal, we went about unpacking our bags and couldn't help but admire our brand new range(s) of leather bags. We don't normally bring anything back with us in our luggage, but we had some extra space after returning some other pieces to one of our makers to be corrected, and we just couldn't resist.
Being a Hindu nation (just over 80% of the population), it is against the law to eat cows, so buffalo are eaten in Nepal and other Hindu nations in place of beef - in fact the meat is called buff (in English translation). I'm sure your buff momo makes more sense now - it is not a misspelling of the word beef.
The hide of these animals is a by-product of meat production, and of course is not wasted. It is, after a lengthy process, tanned
using organic materials and turned into leather which is then crafted by hand - traditionally into headstraps, shoes and khukuri (local knives) scabbards. Now with the demand being high for export quality bags, belts and wallets, the 'Sarki' (Nepali leather making caste) are producing the most
amazing pieces that, (and once again from Nepal), show us how it used to be done. Where words such as local production, traditional methods, and transported by foot, are not simply overused catch phrases designed to tell us what we want to hear.
The leather industry in Nepal is growing ... slowly. Competing with India and China (with all their government incentives on leather production and export), Nepal is like the little brother who keeps on trying despite the odds. But who in our mind, is absolutely winning - if you like products that have been created using processes unchanged for generations combined with modern design and expert craftsmanship.
A by-product of the meat industry
Employs the lowest caste members in Nepali society - leather workers
Tanned using leaves and bark from local trees and shrubs
Cut and crafted entirely by hand
Oiled with mustard oil to finish and soften
We are very proud to be offering our handmade Water Buffalo Leather Bag Collection from Nepal for sale through our website, and our many markets, festivals and Fair Trade events in Australia.
Until next time, Mel X