Sometimes you need to curry leather

Sometimes you need to curry leather

No, this has nothing to do with the Indian dish full of flavors, though it is about giving a unique flavor to the leather itself. Currying is an ancient craft. The traditional practice has virtually disappeared in the last 100 years. It’s the final stage of making leather materials ready for use in specific trades, such as saddler, bridlery, shoemaking and glove making.

The word currying comes from the Latin term corium, which is a layer of skin that makes the texture of leather so supple. In modern tanning, the work curriers used to do, now happens in the retanning phase of leather production. The specific type of leather curriers would finish is now often produced in India where it is vegetable-tanned, or sometimes chrome-tanned. What made this craft so unique is the exceptional knowledge and handcraft that comes with it.

The currier would dress, finish and color the hide in such a way that leather would become strong, flexible and waterproof. Leathers would be stretched and burnished, to make them suitable for heavy duty use. In modern times, only a few specialized curriers are still in business and produce specialized leathers for equestrian use.