The History of the Peshawari Chappal
The Peshawari sandal known as “Saplai’’ in Pushto was introduced in the early 19th century. The now popular footwear in South Asia was traditionally worn by tribal leaders. It used to be a sign of great wealth and power and slowly became a large part of the Pukhtoon culture that we know today.
Historically, it has been worn with Shalwar Kameez, but recently people have been known to wear it with everything from T- shirts to shorts. This might be because the Pakistani Prime Minister himself was often seen wearing them with jeans at public gatherings and this boosted its popularity.
The Peshawari Sandal is primarily produced in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Name “Peshawari” originates from the city of Peshawar and yet the different dialects of Pakistan call it by different names. “Saplai’’ in Pushto, “Kheri” in Punjabi, they are an integral part of the South Asian culture and are often worn at formal events such as weddings, Eid, Diwali and Christmas.
Traditionally it was made on very hard rubber soles with a strap around the back to increase durability and cut the cost price for everyday use. Recently it has started trending as formals with leather soles and high-quality finish to be worn with formal attire and maximum comfort.
These open sandals are hand-made, the art of making a Peshawari sandal being an inherited skill, passed down from their forefathers. The shoemakers make the sandals with utmost attention to detail and it is a matter of pride to be able to make them with a high quality finish. As it was worn by tribal leaders in the past, it is a custom to make these in pure leather. The sandals are first designed on a template, then the leather is cut into pieces, glued together. Then the sole (usually thick rubber or tyre) is cut into shape and the constituents are stitched together. Lastly the shoe mould is placed inside the sandals to give them perfect shape before they go through the finishing process.
The craftsmen work in small cottage size industries, traditionally run by one family. The passed down tradition has not been able to evolve with time due to the lack of technological advancements and so the tradition of hand stitched “Peshawari Sandal” is dying down.