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Hides are skins obtained from animals for human use. Examples of animal hide sources are deer and cattle typically used for producing leather, alligator skins, snake skins for shoes and fashion accessories and wild cats, minks and bears, whose skins are primarily sought for their fur. In India leather is produced from cattle hides at home/ small scale but most leather making is done on a large scale. Various tannins are used for this purpose. Leather from processed hides finds a variety of uses from shoes and clothing to furniture and sometimes wall or surface coverings.



Anthropologists believe that animal hides provided an important source of clothing for prehistoric humans. Animal hides were also frequently believed to be used for shelter by primordial peoples. Hides of animals were also used for tents in the months of summer by Inuit people.

Many American Indians used animal hides to build houses such is tepees and wigwams. The Arctic Indians also used this material for waterproof clothes and kayaks as well as for their houses.

Until the invention of plastic drumheads in the 1950s, animal hides were used.

Animal hides have always been used as a status symbol. Fur was used to demonstrate wealth, both by ancient kings and modern people. Natural leather is used in many expensive products, including limousines and designer mobiles phones.


Fresh tanned leather
Finishgrading leather

Animal hides are stretched, dried and tanned. It is more cost-effective today to raise animals in captivity and then kill them. Large farms exists raising mink and rabbit for fur while much fox, lynx, wolf and other animals are trapped for fur.

Sable fur is produced in China and is one of the most expensive.


Fur and hides find their main use today as clothing, particularly coats. They are valued for their warmth, and as a status symbol. Rabbit fur is a popular material to make hats, coats and glove linings. Ermine fur was historically popular in ceremonial clothes of European monarchs. The black-tipped tails were arranged around the edges of robes, producing the familiar pattern of black diamonds on a white field. Because of this use, "ermine" became a term in heraldry, to mean a white field strewn with small bell-shaped designs called ermine-spots.

Hides have also been used to build canoes and tents, as simple window panes, and as material for writing. For example, many medieval books were written on vellum parchment. Many drums, especially hand drums like the pandeiro have their skin made from hides.

The fur trade led to the opening of the interior of the North American continent. In particular, the popularity of beaver hats in Europe in the 17th and 18th century led to displacement of native tribes, several inter-tribal wars and the eventual near-eradication of the beaver.


Animal rights activists protest use of animal hides in clothing. They use a variety of tactics from persuasion (a campaign with celebrities posing naked with a slogan "I would rather go naked than wear fur") to coercion (spraying people wearing fur clothes with paint, typically red in imitation of blood).

There are many artificial replacements for animal hides, including artificial fur and artificial leather. Their quality and the quality of other replacements is disputed.

See also

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