Animal skins as clothing
The activities related to the manufacture and tanning of leather are very old. During the Middle Ages, the fur industry provided work for shoemakers, leather jackets, boots, chapineros and more than twenty other specialized professions. On the other hand, the territorial conflicts between the medieval kingdoms made fur an object widely used in armies. In places with low temperatures, such as northern Europe or the Siberian steppe, the use of fur as protection against extreme weather was common. However, the nobility also used fur garments as a sign of status on special occasions or as a decorative element.
Most used animal species
During the Middle Ages, furriers worked any type of skin, but the characteristics of each species and its abundance in each region determined its use and commercialization. For example, the nobles of Central Europe and the Mediterranean kingdoms imported ermine fur from the Caucasus, a luxury that was difficult to acquire.
Siberian species such as the arctic fox or the polar bear were also highly valued in the temperate zones of the Old Continent. In the case of the peasantry, rabbit, squirrel, fox, lamb and goat skins were the most used as clothing. These species were common in the day-to-day life of this class, so they were more accessible. In the case of the petty bourgeoisie, who prospered in the cities, cowhide was also used.
Other uses of leather goods
The fur industry not only fed the clothing and war industry in the Middle Ages, but was incorporated into other uses. It was used in book binding, in making furniture, in decoration, in art, etc. Its diversification favored the appearance of thousands of workshops throughout Europe.
The historians of Al-Andalus, for example, documented that more than 13,000 leather workers operated in the peninsular kingdoms, highlighting the Arab and Jewish artisans of Granada and Córdoba. In Medieval Shop you can find various garments and decorative items made of leather.
Adapting to the new times and in response to a growing demand for animal welfare, you can find articles made of real leather and others made of synthetic materials that imitate this noble art.
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