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Geçmişten Günümüze Derinin Tarihi

History of Leather from Past to Present

Tanning is perhaps one of the oldest production activities in human history, developed over thousands of years to improve the performance and appearance of the remains of hunted animals and used for re-covering and sheltering.

Lascaux Caves, France: Cave Painting with Hunting Scenes

Early humans discovered that drying leather in the fire of leaves and herbs lengthened its duration over time and that rubbing it with oil made the leather more pliable, then they realized that the hair could be separated using ash or hot limestone, and finally they could color the leather using plant and flower waters .

But the big breakthrough was the discovery of tannins found in the fruits of some trees (especially oaks) and alum (a mineral that is quite common in nature, especially in volcanic regions).

These substances could actually permanently change the chemical structure of the skin or tan it.

Since then, leather has been used for many different purposes: Sumerians used it to make clothing and jewelry; The Assyrians used it to make shoes and rafts; The Egyptians used it not only to produce clothing and ornaments, but also to make tools and weapons; The Phoenicians instead modeled it to obtain water and pipes; The Romans eventually also used it to make shields and harnesses for horses.

Old Leather Shoes

However, the use of leather was limited only to the Western world: In Asia, too, the Mongols used leather to make flasks, blankets, masks, and hats, as Marco Polo testified in "Il Milione."

Kazakhstan: Antique Leather Wineskin

Over time, increasingly refined techniques were developed, such as "Moroccan" (actually first produced in India) or "Cordova leather", developed in Spain during Arab rule.

Meanwhile, until the mid-nineteenth century, little changed in this industry: the discovery of the tanning properties of chromium salts and the invention of rotary drums were a real revolution, reducing the tanning time from several months to several weeks.

Tannery - 1800s Period

Today, despite improvements in efficiency and ease of production, the processes and tools used are almost the same: leather tanning remains, and the industry retains a high degree of craftsmanship and is still closely linked to the sensitivity and skill of the master tanner.

Morocco: Manual Tanning

Today's Tanning


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