Finding his calling in making ‘chapal’

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 03 May 2020

Skilful: Rusydi making the traditional ‘chapal’ at the shop.

BALIK PULAU: He has a diploma in multimedia but all Muhammad Rusydi Rodzaki wants to do is to make leather chapal (men’s sandals) for a living.

His interest in the handmade craft business began after he completed his studies at a private college in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

“I started to work at my friend’s shop where he sells a variety of leather products such as wallets, belts and chapal.

“I learnt how to repair shoes and after

a few years of working with him, I picked up the skill of making handmade leather products, especially chapal, ” the 28-year-old said.

But his passion was actually ignited back in 2017 during a visit to India.

Over there, he witnessed how Indians appreciated their culture by learning the traditional art and skill of making the sandals.

He said among the popular types of chapal worn by those in India and Pakistan were the Kolhapuri Chapal and Peshawar Chapal, which dated back hundreds of years ago in those countries.

“That’s when I realised that in the Malay culture, we also have our own traditional chapal which can be traced to the early days of the Malacca Sultanate, ” he said.

He added that among the most sought-after types of chapal were the traditional Malay Chapal and the Sunnah Chapal.

These days, with a shoemaker hammer and chisel in hand, Rusydi has been working long hours at his house in Pondok Upeh and shop at Kongsi in Balik Pulau to fill Hari Raya orders. He said most of his regular customers had been asking about his products, especially the chapal.

“The orders for my homemade chapal this year are a bit slow compared to last year, probably because of the people’s current economic situation, ” he said.

Rusydi, who is married, said he used to have a shop in Batu Feringghi but it was closed last year due to poor business.

Since then, he has been running his business from his house. He is also using his friend’s shop for the time being.

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