Preparing sheepskins for tanning, Ahmadabad
Photographer: Narayen, Shivashanker
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of three men at work preparing sheepskins for tanning at Ahmadabad in Gujarat, taken by Shivashanker Narayen in c. 1870, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. A description in John Forbes Watson's catalogue to the Vienna Universal Exhibition of 1873, to accompany examples of this process states, "The process of tanning consists in soaking the skins in lime water for some days to loosen the hair and surface of the skin; the hide is then scraped, and after washing is sewn up in the form of a sack, which is filled with babool bark (Acacia arabica); it is then exposed to a constant stream of water, which forces the astringent matter into the pores of the hide very rapidly; but to make the process still more rapid the hide is taken out, wrung, and refilled every four or five days. While still damp the skins are spread on the ground and rubbed on both sides with a wooden block or mallet furnished with a handle."