History and the making of the Yemeni shoe
Although most products were formerly manufactured by natural means, most are now produced with artificial materials. Only some exceptional products have survived. Yemeni, a local shoe of Southeastern Anatolia Region, is one of the rare natural products that has survived to this day. It is a heelless shoe, which is hand sewn with natural leather. The Yemeni, which was worn by all people from this region in the past, was produced by a limited number of artists in Gaziantep and Kilis.
It is estimated that Yemeni has a history of 600 years and has passed through South East Turkey, Yemen, and Aleppo. Due to the fact that it is produced with completely natural materials, those who produce Yemeni, which is a very healthy shoe, are called "Kusger" and the group of tradesmen who sell them are called "kavaf".
Different materials are used for different parts of the Yemeni. The tanned cattle and buffalo skins forming the base are called "hearts gön and the goat skins used on the face are called sah sahtiyan. Sheepskin is used in the inner lining and cattle or goat leather is used in the inner sole, called "oak". The parts of Yemeni are adhered with a plant-based glue, called "çiriş". After the proper cutting of the leather the laborious details of sewing by hand begin. The edges of the shoe are carefully sewn using a bees wax twine with the help of a leather drill called "biz". The upholstered Yemeni is inverted and inserted into the mold. After cutting around it, the form is removed from the mold. The Yemeni is then ready to be re-molded, waiting one day.
Yemeni allows the feet to breathe, and extracts sweat because of the porous structure of the leather from which it is produced. Another advantage is that the foot becomes orthopedic in a short time. In the beginning of the Yemeni, when the design was its most basic, there was no difference between the left and the right. It was with wear that the shoe would properly adhere to the foot that it soled. Although the shoe design has now progressed to suit both right and left in their unique form, the original quality of molding to the foot is still one of the Yemeni’s strong qualities.
The hundreds of Artisans who produced Yemeni in the past, have made this cultural treasure part of our lives today, as they passed the art of the craft down through generations. There are still a few Masters who produce Yemeni in Diyarbakir, Gaziantep and Kilis. These Masters have remained dedicated to preserving the original Art, honoring their culture and the Masters who came before them. Tigris Handmade is proud to support these skilled craftsmen and the high quality and all natural products that they produce. In a world that is becoming more and more dependent upon technology, we have taken a step back to celebrate the shoe that has stood the test of time in its authentic and original form.