Upanah, paduka (in Sanskrit), kharawan (in Hindi) or sandal has been a popular form of foot covering in Indian culture from the Vedic period onward. Juta and juti (in Urdu), chappal or morjari (in Hindi) these slippers and shoes are the few other types of foot covering that have plenty of references in classical Sanskrit literature and in Buddhist, Jain and in the Sangam Tamil literature from South India. Apart from literary references foot coverings have been beautifully depicted in Indian art too. In addition to literature and art, shoes got the highest reward of its importance in the Epic Ramayana and in Tamil culture, which has no parallel in any other culture of the world. The rich Indian classical and folk literature provides the fine details on the types of foot covering, the material and color used for making them shoes and the occasion of use and other related customs. On the other hand numerous miniature paintings show the variety of shoes and its users. So far, actual shoes of the museums and private collections are less reported1. Therefore an attempt has been made here to discuss the shoe collection of the National Museum of India located in New Delhi. Before discussing the actual objects in detail, it will not be out of context to give the brief history of shoe tradition in Indian literature, art and its symbolic meaning.
Shoe tradition in literature
The ‘ Upanah' or 'Upanat' is the term used for sandal or shoe in the Vedic literature. This word has been referred to in Yajur Veda Samhita2, the Atherva Veda3 the Brahmanas4 and Panini grammar5, which gives the impression that Upanah were probably the most common type of foot wear used by the lay person in ancient India. Such foot wear were worn even during the ritual ceremonies and by mendicants in that period6. The skin of the antelope or boar was used for making such foot wear7...
footwear, India, juti, paduka, traditional, upanah
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