Leather is a sturdy and adjustable material created by tanning animal raw hide and skins that have been treated with chemicals to preserve them and make them suitable for making variety of products related to clothing, handbags footwear, furniture, tools and sports equipment. Cattle hide is the most commonly used raw material. The earliest record of leather artifacts dates back to 2200 BC.

The skin of larger animals (e.g., cowhide or horsehide) is referred to as term hide, whereas that of smaller animals refers as skin (e.g., calfskin or kidskin). The skin then undergoes a chemical treatment called tanning, in which the perishable skin is converted to a strong and non-decaying material.

Skin of diverse animal have been used such as ostriches, lizards, eels, fish, and kangaroos. Common leathers come from seven main groups that is equine animals, including horses, mules and zebras; buffalo; pigs and hogs; aquatic animals as seals, walrus, whales, and alligators and cattle, including calves and oxen; sheep and lambs; goats and kids. Tanning agents are included such as vegetable tannins from sources such as tree bark, mineral salts such as chromium sulphate, and fish or animal oils.


A cross section of mammalian skin and its underlying structures.

The hides of mammals are composed of three layers:  a thin outer layer known as epidermis; the thick central layer called corium, or dermisand a subcutaneous fatty layer. After the two sandwiching layers have been removed the central layer called corium is used to make the leather. The water percent in fresh hides lies between 60 and 70 percent by weight and protein percent lies between 30 to 35 percent. Collagen is a fibrous protein held together by chemical bonds, which is present about 85 percent. Basically, leather making is the science of using acids, bases, salts, enzymes, and tannins to dissolve fats and non-fibrous proteins and strengthen the bonds between the collagen fibres.

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Leather – Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leather

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020, March 05). Leather. Retrieved June 15, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/leather

Browse by Color. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2020, from https://www.mooreandgiles.com/leather/resources/history/