By N.K. Babar
Peshawari Chappal is the standard issue footwear of Pukhtoon men in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and the Pukhtoons of Afghanistan. Though it takes it’s name Peshawari from the city of Peshawar, nobody is quite sure of it’s origins. In fact natives don’t use the name Peshawari and simply call it ‘Saplai’, Pukhto for footwear. Non Pukhtoons call it Peshawari Chappal and have also adopted it as one of their favorite regional footwear.
Peshawari Chappal or Saplai is an everyday footwear of men for both normal day to day to life as well as formal occasions. Some people though wear more fancier versions on formal occasions like weddings. It can be worn with or without socks.
Unlike European footwear, it is semi-closed both in the front and back consisting of two wide leather strips crossing each other and secured to the sole. At the back is a strap with a buckle to secure the foot inside the chappal with multiple holes to adjust according to foot size.
The sole can be leather or rubber. Leather soles are generally lighter whereas rubber soles are a bit heavier but longer lasting.
In summer some people prefer to wear an even more front open version called Panjdar Saplai or Panjdaray Saplai / Chappal.
Traditionally saplai were made by the local village cobbler or local artisans. The local artisans or cobblers still exist and some people will only wear saplai made by their favorite artisan / cobbler. Others are not so particular and buy them from larger commercial stores in cities.
Peshawari Chappal can be worn with the native qamees shalwar dress or with pants. Women do not wear such chappals though – it would be un-feminine.
Peshawari Chappal is available in black and brown color, mostly hand stitched though some very limited versions are available in the soft leather hand knotted variety. Some boutiques in cities also have very fancy versions with gold thread, embossing and exotic colors.
You can buy Peshawar Chappal over the Internet from KhyberBazaar.com and many other places. Buy yourself a pair – walk in the footwear of the Pukhtoons. Add some variety to your shoe collection.