Alexei Naranov, About Leatherwork and Crafts
Alexei talks about manual pelt processing, the use of leather in clothing, as well as about blacksmiths and saddles. Darina: Do you have craftsmen in your family? Alexei: I made things myself. Also, my mother used to process lamb skin from which she made hats. Darina: How did she process a skin? Alexei: After the sheep was slaughtered, she took its skin and scraped it to soften it. Darina: How was the skin fermented? Alexei: A big pot is filled with fermented milk. The skin becomes soft in this solution. All the dirt comes off. Afterwards the skin is dried. Darina: Was chalk applied to the skin? Alexei: Yes, chalk was applied to it to make it white. Afterwards, the skin was shaken out to get rid of the chalk. Darina: What did people make from a horse’s skin? Alexei: People made everything. Darina: Did people make winter coats? Alexei: Winter coats were made from a sheep’s skin. A horse’s skin was used to make a coat called dokha as well as various covers. Darina: In dokha, was the fur inside out? Alexei: Yes. Darina: A coat from a sheep’s skin - was its fur inside? Alexei: Yes, inside. Darina: Did you have blacksmiths? Alexei: Yes. Darina: What did they do? Who were they? Alexei: They did repair works in our kolkhoz. They looked after tractors and equipment. They were all Russian men. Darina: In the past, who made saddles? Alexei: There were masters who made them. Saddles were made from pieces of wood that were glued together. Darina: Were stirrups the only metal part in saddles? Alexei: Yes. Darina: Were there any specialists who made stirrups? Alexei: We bought iron stirrups in Astrakhan. Kalmyks covered the top of their saddles with a cow’s skin. Pelt was used to make whips and other things. Darina: What kind of skin was a whip made from? Alexei: From a cow’s pelt. Darina: Was it used to make clothing? Alexei: No, a cow’s pelt was used to make boots or shoes only.