Exotic Leather Blog

The History of Stingray Skin

Posted by Abram Mendal on Mar 12, 2014, 11:46:00 AM

Three_Japanese_Swords-932273-edited.jpgStingray skin has almost always been recognized for both its beauty and durability. Its uniqueness is undeniable, as it looks unlike any other type of leather. Stingray skin has been used for generations by a wide variety of cultures and for many different items. Some of those items include armor, sword handles, furniture, wallets and shoes.  From Asia to North America, stingray skin has gained popularity over the centuries.

Japanese Usage

Japan was one of the first countries to appreciate the incredible nature of stingray skin. Samurai would use the skins for armor because of its magnificent strength. Among these strengths are the skin’s resistance to being punctured, burned or torn. Another somewhat obvious characteristic is that the skin is waterproof. Additionally, the Japanese found it useful to make handles for their tools and swords out of the skin. Stingray skin made for a comfortable grip that would last a long time through the turmoil of warfare. Besides being a strong material, the stingray skin is beautiful and added a sense of luxury to each item that was made with it.

Egyptian Usage

A stingray hide, ready for the first cuts.Artists and craftsmen in ancient Egypt valued stingray skin greatly. It was beautiful, unique, and incredibly strong. They used the skin for armor as well as personal items. Traces of stingray skin have even been found in the tombs of the pharaohs. Many early civilizations including that of Egypt thought that stingray skin was a form of good luck and prosperity. Many believed it would bring power and strength as well.

The dorsal fin bone found on the back of the stingray is a gorgeous marking unlike any other and has been adored by many cultures for generations. It is said to resemble a cluster of pearls. It is truly one of nature’s inexplicable miracles. The Egyptians believed the mark was a symbol of wealth and a sure sign of good fortune to all who possessed it.

French Usage

In France during the 1700s, Louis XV possessed many items made from this exotic and beautiful leather. A few of those items included snuff boxes, wig cases, and sheaths. Stingray skin leather was chosen for its bead-like appearance and feel. The durability of stingray skin makes it the perfect choice for these kinds of heavy-abuse items.

Stingray Skin Today

In a close-up of this Japanese hilt, you can see the mottled pattern of the skin used. This mottled pattern keeps the cords wrapping the handle from slipping during a fight, giving the Japanese samurai unparalleled sureness in their grip.

In more recent times, stingray skin has not always been recognized as being a valuable asset. In the past, fishermen would catch stingrays for their meat and then throw the skins overboard. Today, tanneries have developed to a point where the skin has become usable for a variety of applications. Stingray skin can be dyed nearly any color and treated with a variety of finishes. It makes as beautiful a handbag as it does a table top. The unusual nature of the skin makes it a timeless piece that can be used for years and passed down through generations.

There are many different species of stingrays in the world. Fortunately, they are not endangered. Since their meat is valued by many cultures, especially South Asia, nearly no part of the fish goes to waste. The meat is tender and a good source of protein.  

We here at Pan American Leather love and appreciate stingray leather. It’s a remarkable material in terms of both its physical and aesthetic qualities. It has been adored by many different cultures for centuries, and with good reason Contact us today to learn more about stingray skins and to get help with your next purchase.

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Topics: stingray skin