Shantiniketan Leather Bags from Amar Kutir

Amar Kutir: How it Started

Amar Kutir was once place of refuge for activists involved in independence movements. Today the scene is different; it has a big cooperative society for rural development. This place is at a distance of 15kms from Shantiniketan, but Rabindranath Tagore is no way associated with this place. Amar Kutir (my cottage) was set up by Sushen Mukherjee in 1927.Sushen believed that one’s first and foremost purpose of life should be “to free yourself from the bondage of foreign rule”. While he had many young followers ready to fight against British and who were most often in hiding, Sushen was worried about how they would maintain their day to day living. So it was here at Amar Kutir, he established the rudiments of cottage industry.

Raw materials, sheets of leather being sorted out.
Shantiniketan Leather Bags

Shantiniketan Leather Bags

What started as an initiative for self sustenance turned into full fledged industry offering employment to many! I visited the unit producing Shantiniketan leather bags and other goods. There are approx 65 experts in the unit, each person assigned with a particular job. The raw material passed from one expert’s hand to the next and then next till it came out finally a beautiful pouch or key chain, or hand bag, may be even as pencil box or lipstick holder etc.

The dye they use is vegetable dye, yet years of working with these dyes changed the color of the skin of this lady’s fingers. They have turned white. I asked her if it was painful, she said there was no pain or numbness, only the color of the skin had changed. Some of them were using finger caps made of rubber. Observe carefully, you will see the finger caps in her right hand.

Finished pouches. You can click to enlarge  the pictures.

Showroom at Amar Kutir

They have a beautiful showroom stuffed with various products. The other units there are the Kantha stitch products, needle craft unit, shola and lac crafts units. The products beautiful and all are reasonably priced. I was happy to visit the place, talk to the locals there and came back happy with some of their stuffs.


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53 Responses

  1. Joop Zand says:

    Very nice impression Indrani…..good shots again.

    Greetings, Joop

  2. Sylvia K says:

    Beautiful work and amazing what has happened to her hands!!! Terrific shots for the day, Indrandi, as always! Hope your week is off to a great start!

  3. Jeevan says:

    Great knowing about this wonderful place! True hard workers

  4. George says:

    This sounds like a wonderful place to visit. You got a first-hand view of how these beautiful creations are made.

  5. TexWisGirl says:

    so glad the woman's fingers do not have pain! beautiful work they do.

  6. Carver says:

    Fascinating narrative and great shots.

  7. Cloudia says:

    Having worked leather myself, I can admire their craft and skill, Indrani

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral
    =^..^= <3
    > < } } ( ° >
    > < 3 3 3 ( ' >

  8. Fascinating post, a piece of history and slice of life I know very little about, thanks !

  9. Hi Indrani,

    Firstly, thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

    Secondly, Kudos to you for visiting this place and writing about it. It is a great way for locals to make a sustainable living. Hope you shopped a lot 🙂


  10. i support undertakings like this. they make wonderful creations.

  11. N Buckles says:

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog Munchy Delight Adventures today.
    I love your narrative of this beautifully hand crafted items.
    — Noriko

  12. ladyfi says:

    It looks like a lot of hard work!

  13. Kusum Sanu says:

    Very nice! I have a bag and few wallets from here!

  14. Shaivi says:

    Very well captured!

  15. Great informative post.. nice find to share..

  16. Mina Menon says:

    I used to own on of them which then got passe donto my mother. And lemme tell you, they hv withstood all the wear n tear n still goes strong… A piece of beauty it indeed is

  17. Colour change seems an occupational hazard.I wasn't aware of this.I have seen such bags in Kolkata

  18. Nice Post with Lovely Pics, looks like they have Interesting stuff. . Have a Nice Day. . . 🙂

  19. Beautiful & interesting post. Nice pics.

  20. Wow…that is amazing!

  21. Freat ingenuity!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  22. Very beautiful post. The creations are pretty and I am glad her fingers are not in pain.

  23. Gattina says:

    That was an excellent idea ! Should be done more also in other countries !

  24. What an interesting post – thank you.

  25. Bibi says:

    I've seen many of those little coin purses. Now I know where they come from.

  26. I really love your blog. So interesting. So I'm your newest follower. I invite you to visit my blog. Thank you.
    Endah- Indonesia

  27. Wonderful success story!

  28. Vijay says:

    Nice and useful information

  29. Wow the pics look amazing and the handmade products in the last pic are so beautiful 🙂

  30. awesome shots………. 🙂

  31. i am yet to see that someone work with vegetable dye may suffer from skin disease like this. The dye can not be purely vegetable, it could be a part of actual chemical dye. Most of them contain methyl salisilicate which on daily use may damage the hypodermal layers. Thank you for bringing into light a bitter truth.

  32. a great and informataive post. I learned something. 🙂

  33. What an amazing place!

  34. Nasreen says:

    Nice images.. Thanks for sharing interesting things..

  35. Pure and positive work. Thanks for photos too.

  36. nice images ! Work done for cause !

  37. Do you have images of what you got back from there?Lovely article,the hand of the lady looks rather worked out! I wish they had some gloves or something.

  38. Thanks so much for the comments friends.

    Thanks Ankita. I did purchase some stuffs from there… may be I will make a separate post on it.

  39. Great idea. It's great to see a leader with vision and compassion. Thanks for sharing.

  40. It's first time knowing about this place..good job done!

  41. its wonderful creating small cottage industries like this, wonderful

  42. Nice Informative Post Indrani.. 🙂

  43. Such a different point of view.

    I host a weekly link party called "Oh, the PLACES I've been!" and would love to have you link.

    – The Tablescaper

  44. Great post with beautiful pics..:-)

  45. That's so interesting how the vegetable dyes have whitened her fingers. Very informative post.

  46. Thank you for sharing, very interesting. Nice to meet you via Travel Photo Thursday. Do you have an 'About ' page, I can't see one at the moment.

  47. Most interesting post; I will look at those leather articles differently from now on.

  48. LadyE says:

    Interesting post, and some beautiful product. Thanks for contributing to Travel Photo Thursday!

  49. great bags and loved the pics.

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