Every country has its unique culture, and the nation tries to preserve it no matter what. We as a nation are not having or showing an enlightened approach towards the culture.
I don’t know where precisely lies the blame and cause of this ignorance; there are plenty of reasons. We have become copycats, and we are the people who have the immense inferiority complex. We just follow what comes towards us from the Bollywood and West.
We never said and will never say that we should not be wearing western outfits and footwear, but we emphasise much that we should not forget our cultural attire.
Today we are going to cover the traditional and ethnic footwear market in Lahore, known as Sheikhupura market because the most of the cobblers come from there. But it is famous as Taxali Khussa market as it is located in Taxali.
The market is situated right behind Badshahi mosque near the Taxali Gate and besides the notorious and scandalous Diamond market aka Heera Mandi. Taxali gate got its name from the famous Teksaal (mint) established here in the pre-independence era to make the coins known as takka.
It’s all about the ethnic, cultural footwear. The Taxali Khussa market has almost 106 shops, having a variety from virtually all over the Pakistan.
They sell exclusive handmade khussas, sandals, Tila Jutis(shoes), Naorozis, Kheri, Zari Kheri, and Kaptaan chappal.
Kaptaan Chappal got its name from Kaptaan (Imran Khan) who introduced the chappal as he was found wearing this. The difference is a sturdy rubber sole.
Khussa was initially worn by the common man, especially of Punjab. These shoes trace their origins to the 5,000-year-old Harappa civilisation. Then during the 17th century, it was the Mughal King Jahangir who introduced the embellished version. Such a khussa was made of the best leather embedded with real gems and embroidered beautifully with threads of real gold and silver.
That is how it got its name ‘Saleem Shahi’, which was the nickname of Jahangir. It soon became associated with Nawabs, rajas and others. Later on, when the synthetic thread was used, it became more affordable and was worn by all classes. Some specimens are on display in the Lahore Museum.
The original Khussa market was at Bhati Darwaza, but due to some reasons the whole market got shifted here some 40 years back. The first shop opened here named new Shalimar khussa house, it’s still present and being run by Haji Shaukat sons now.
The footwear comes here from all over the country, Sargodha, Sheikhupra, Hafizabad, Shikarpur, Chakwal, Attock, Qasur, Bahawalpur, Talakang, Wazirabad, Peshawar, Charsadda and Quetta.
The Price ranges from 500 to 15,000. But you can have the high-quality Sandal or Khussa in almost Rs. 3000.
Khussas would be typified based on the specific leather that was used in making it or a distinctive design made at a particular place.
For instance, the ones made from goat skin are known as Saleem Shahi. The ones made from camel skin are known as Nagra. Khussas having filigree patterns are made at Wazirabad, therefore called Wazirabaadi. Those who have embroidery done with a white metallic thread called ‘tilla’ on specifically red, black or skin coloured leather are called Shikaarpuri. It has also been called TalaKangi, Chakwali, Bahawalpuri, Qasoori, etc. with some little differences in designs.
Multani khussas were and are still considered the best regarding craft as well as matchless designing. They are made by skilled craftsmen in small shops in the old city.
The Taxali Khussa market is declining day by days, in the season the shopkeepers were sitting idly as the only customers they cater nowadays are people attending some particular wedding event or some crazy fan of the footwear.
Farooq Jhakar, owner of the khussa mahal, said:
We are giving much money in rents and electric bills, the sale is much little and is continuously declining. Inflation has caused harm to all of us from artisans to the customer.
Yousaf, the salesman at the Baba Fareed Khussa Mahal, said:
As leather is costly and the customers have the least purchasing power, so that’s why fashionable footwear is of rubber and TPR soles.
Sikhs who are famous for their attribute of glueing to the culture do shop much from the market when they come here for the rituals at gurdwaras.
The footwear originating from Pakistan has much cultural value, its so beautiful and alluring that it can attract much tourists to Pakistan and also if exported can be a valuable item which will bring much foreign reserve to Pakistan. It should be registered as a trade and business. The government will earn massive tax from this business. If imported, these classy shoes will bring much fame and reserve to the country.
We should teach our children that they should never leave or hate their identity. Cultural things should be preferred over anything, and we should be proud of the stuff we made and have.
The Taxali Khussa market is so dirty having no proper drainage system and garbage everywhere, where is the administration sleeping? It needs some frequent visits from ACs or other administrative officers. We have decorated a foodie street few miles away, what is the fault committed by the Taxali Khussa market area?
why no one ever focused on this area?
This is the street which has much historical importance, it will attract the visitors from all over the world and will be a gem in Lahore. When brands like Markhor and J. can sell khussas from 30 to 50 thousand, why not bring prosperity to the skilled craftsman who is making these shoes? No tourist want to buy the khussa from the mall or fancy shop. Visitors want to take souvenirs from the traditional shops and streets.
This art will die soon, as no one wants their next generation to indulge in this business.
The majority of citizens don’t know that Taxali holds such a market and those who knows never want to come here for shopping with family as the area stinks.Government and the society have to take the necessary steps to preserve this cultural and traditional treasure.