Khussas are Pakistan’s favorite and most traditional shoe. We’ve all seen and worn them growing up, but have you ever wondered how they came into existence and how they became such a symbol of all things desi.
So I did some research…
In the pre-Mughal time, towards the north of the Indian Sub-Continent, there was a lot of Chinese influence in the area.
Shoes were made with wood as the base. This style originated directly from China but soon fell out of style due to practicality issues. It wasn’t comfortable nor was it conducive to the hot weather of the region. Since the region was dominated with farmland, leather was a material that was easy to come by.
The earliest form of this shoe was the majori.
The majori joota had a very different shape than the khussa we know and love today. The shoe was far pointier and had a triangular shape to it. These shoes were crafted to fit the needs of farmers and farm workers. Leather was an optimal choice since it helped to protect against injuries.
Soon, the edges smoothed out and shape started to resemble the khussas we see today.
It was around this time that the show was elevated from the common man to the royal courts. The Mughal King, Jehangir brought the shoe to the Mughal court, thus making it a royal shoe. They began to bedazzle the shoe by adding precious stones, embroidery and different types of thread work.
The shoe was still worn by the common man, just a more regular version of it.
Craftsmen would take orders on a monthly basis and usually, these orders would be for entire families. Since the concept of money as we know it today hadn’t fully formed, these shoes were made on a barter basis; so shoes were made in return for wheat and other basics.
Khussas largely remained the same till about a few years ago, when commercialism really picked up.
Since the mid-2000s, there has been a trend towards ballet flats and ‘pumps’; therefore khussas provided a desi in-between for this trend to grow in Pakistan and India. Khussas got more colorful, trendy and definitely more modern.
The shoe lends itself to a lot of customization and transformation.
Khussa makers are now adding different types of kaam to the shoe as well as reforming the shape of the shoe. From zari, to detailed embroidery and even digital and hand-made paint jobs, khussas exhibit it all.
No matter how far the desi fashion scene goes, the khussa will always reign supreme, simply because it can change itself to suit the times. It’s a shoe that has survived a lot and still holds its relevance in our lives.
Now excuse me, all this khussa research has peaked my need to buy a new pair, so like, bye.
Cover Photo Courtesy: shoesbyuzi.com // zari.com.pk