Tanning and Tanned Leather in Ancient Ireland

From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906

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CHAPTER XXII....concluded

5. Tanning and tanned Leather.

The art of tanning leather was well understood in ancient Ireland. The name for a tanner was súdaire [soodera], which is still a living word. Oak bark was employed, and in connexion with this use was called coirtech [curtagh: Lat. cortex], as we find the word used in the Laws. By the process of tanning, the hide was thickened and hardened, as at present. Tanned leather was used for various purposes, one of the principal being as material for shoes; but we know that shoes were also made of untanned hide (see p. 396, supra). Curraghs or wicker-boats were often covered with leather (see chap. xxiv., sect. 4). A jacket of hard, tough, tanned leather was sometimes worn in battle as a protecting corselet. Bags made of leather, and often of undressed skins, were pretty generally used to hold liquids. There was a sort of leather wallet or bag called a crioll, used like a modern travelling-bag, to hold clothes and other soft articles.

The parts of every article made of leather were joined together by stitching with thongs. Those tradesmen in leather-work who stitched with thongs, namely, the leather-bottle maker, the shoemaker, and the leather-wallet maker, worked with a pair of thongs, forming a stitch with each alternately, the workman, while using the free end of one, holding the end of the other between his teeth: exactly like the ancient Egyptian shoemakers as they are depicted in stone and brick records.


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