Unlike European stirrup leathers, Fulani stirrup leathers are multi-stranded and wound to suit the length of the rider. They look great but they are not easy to adjust once they are fitted onto the saddle.
To make Fulani stirrup leathers, a prepared skin is cut into long fine strands using a razor blade (Image 1). Sets of five strands are plaited together to make 2 single strand plaits, each about 15.5m long (Image 2). The lengths are checked (Image 3). They are soaked in water and then dipped into dye – half yellow and half pink (Image 4) – before being hung out in the sun to dry. They are then rubbed down with the underside of a strip of leather to make them shine. Finally the lengths are wound into a pair of leathers that are hooked onto the saddle (Image 5).
Short sections are used as a fastening in our SAHEL ruched handbag.