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I recently put this post up on my hubby’s and my shared blog A Biker’s Guide to the Dordogne which we’ve started for visiting bikers. Not everyone is a biker so I thought I’d reblog the post here for others.

The village of Fanlac is a hidden gem, beautifully picturesque, and will only be found if you go and look for it. It has quite a sad story from the war involving a Fanlac family, the Resistance and the German army. You can read about this at the tiny tourist information office. But this post is not about history it’s about leather – fish leather!

If you take a walk around the narrow little paths in the village you’re bound to come to Creations Cuir de Poisson, owned by Kristof Mascher.

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We were taking a walk in Fanlac in February and came upon the shop which I hadn’t known was there. Kristof welcomed us into his little workshop and showed us what he did. He explained the age old tradition of making fish leather.

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This is a little history taken from his website:

In south-east Siberia, an indigenous people called the Nanais lived by hunting and fishing, in close relationship with nature. The particular cultural trait of these people was the development of a specialized tanning technique for fish skin which allowed them to make waterproof clothing.

Today there are 10,000 Nanais surviving in these regions, only half of which (the oldest ones) still speak their own language. Their culture has mostly been annihilated and forgotten.

One descendent of this tribe, Anatol Donkan, a former art student who is now a renowned artist, has found his vocation in revitalising the art of his people and giving it as place in the modern world. Following extensive research and experimentation, he has finally managed to recover their technique of tanning fish skin. In collaboration with a Swiss specialist, he has worked to improve and modernise the ancient method and has succeeded in producing a tear-proof fish skin leather using only plant extracts.

We talked to Kristof about his work and the leather making process, and wandered around the shop quite enthralled by the gorgeous bags, belts, key-rings and other items. I had never realised that fish skin could be used for leather. Since it was nearly my birthday I talked my hubby into buying me a key-ring (I needed one for my Ducati) which Kristof told me was made from a spotted wolffish.

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If you’re thinking of a visit to the shop it might be an idea to phone first as Kristof is sometimes away at faires and shows. He speaks excellent English, German and French. For more information him have a look at his website: http://www.fischleder-kreationen.com/ (it sometimes takes quite a few seconds to load.

Be warned gentlemen! If you take your wife or girlfriend in here she’ll definitely need a new bag!

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