Artistic embroidery using split peacock feathers adorns traditional leather costume elements including braces, belts and shoes.
The skill of artistically decorating leather with split feather shafts has been widespread in southern Germany, Tyrol and the area around Salzburg since the 19th century. Traditional costume accessories and other leather objects such as horse harnesses are also embellished in this way to become sumptuously decorated status symbols.
At one time this work-intensive craft was usually carried out by agricultural workers and saddlers to provide a secondary, while today it has become recognised as a trade in its own right requiring a five-year apprenticeship to become a journeyman. Today half dozen craftsmen in South Tyrol carry on the trade, for the most part in the Val Sarentino/Sarntal valley to the north of Bolzano/Bozen.
The white feather shafts come from the tail feathers of the male peacock. They are split and sometimes coloured, after which the thin glossy strips are normally used to embroider black leather according to a pattern In addition to favourite traditional decorative motifs, monograms and coats-of-arms are the most popular embellishments. Today even wallets, key rings and handbags are commonly embroidered with the owner's monogram.