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The Natural Magic of Mongolian Wool: Animal and Eco-friendly, Renewable, and Useful


Why Wool?

In Mongolia, the sheep and the humans live in a mutually beneficial relationship. It's so important to Mongolians that they call wool "white gold."

Wool is a miraculous material. 100% wool is a temperature regulator that stays cool in summer and warm in winter. It repels water, but if soaked, it can still retain heat. This amazing substance is multi-climatic/trans-seasonal.

It’s a 100% renewable resource. Wool that is derived from the sheep of Mongolia is removed humanely and the animals are free to roam all over. In fact, most days, the sheep go out on their own all day and only return to the family at night.

It’s also easy to care for. Each fiber has a natural waxy coating that protects it. This makes wool products stain-resistant and naturally anti-static. Such easy care is often a surprise to most people. They’re used to industrial wool that has been chemically treated and abused to remove all of the natural oils and coatings.

Unlike most synthetic materials, wool breathes. It’s better for your skin, especially your feet, because air flows in and out. 

Because the fibers are naturally elastic, wool stretches comfortably, ensuring that your shoes or clothes fit even when your feet have swollen or you’ve gained a pound or two. Wool also returns to its original shape easily, so wool shoes and clothes don’t get stretched out.

Wool is very eco-friendly. Many people protest the wool industry, but this naturally derived fiber will be part of the solution to the world’s ecological problems. It degrades quickly and easily and is also safer to wear; it’s naturally flame-retardant and doesn’t melt to the skin when it does burn.

How it’s made?

Mongolian wool is taken off of the sheep in the spring, before the summer heat hits. They are gently sheared by hand. The sheep, like big dogs, enjoy it as their heavy winter coat is removed from them. The Mongolians call the wool noos at this point.

Once the wool is removed, it’s carefully washed using only water, 100% natural soap and soda ash.. Using the right soap keeps the natural oils in the wool giving it a quality that cannot be found in any synthetic materials.

Then the wool is carded. This is where two boards or a wheel and a board that are covered with small hooks are passed by each other in opposite directions. This combs the wool into one direction.

If a specific color is desired, the wool is dyed as this point. Wool is a colorfast material that accepts dye very well. 

This process keeps the wool “alive.” The living wool keeps its natural oils and resilience.

The wool is then pressed into the shape that’s needed, in the case of Zudari, for shoes. It’s wet with soap and water when the artisan begins working on it. The wool is hand-kneaded and patted for 45 minutes to an hour. It’s sized and dried on shoe trees to ensure that the shoes are the perfect size. In Mongolian, the wool at this point is called esgii.

Mongolian sheep and their humans

Mongolian wool is unique. It’s gathered and processed by Mongolian families. They care for the sheep, process the wool, and make the boots. This means that everything they do, whether it’s make boots for Zudari or make cloth for other businesses, is done with a careful eye to perfection. To them, the sheep aren’t just a commodity; they are the family’s lifeblood. It’s clear from the way they treat the sheep, they not only work with them, but they honor them.

For tens of thousands of years, the wool that sheep gave to the Mongolians kept them alive. Wool is such a good natural insulator that their tents are made from it, their clothes are made from it, and their shoes are made from it.

Mongolians see the wool as a living organism. This leads them to treat sheep and the wool in a way that most Westerners don’t understand.

Why choose handmade over machines?

The hands of master craftsperson can give wool the life it deserves. His or her hands can feel the fibers, craft the ideal shapes, and create something that can last for decades.

Machines do not impart the one thing that a master can: soul. Things that are made with care and time have a soul that machine-made items don’t have.

 Zudari only works with the families of the steppes of Mongolia. Each source is carefully vetted to make sure they adhere to the natural, time-tested methods of caring for the animals, letting them roam and graze.

Why Mongolian Wool?

There is no place else on the planet where the sheep are treated so well. Where the sun, the wind, and the grasses of this vast pure land give the wool all of the natural benefits that it’s meant to have. Crafted into amazing boots for the entire family, this is one of nature’s most amazing gifts which we repay by helping to keep the sheep and people of the region well-fed and well-reimbursed for the hours of labor each pair of Zudari boots requires.

Mongolian wool is not felt!

No. Felt contains some wool with synthetic ingredients and lot of chemicals. Felt doesn’t provide the same protection and temperature regulation that natural wool does.

Wool can’t be abused if it’s going to keep all of these amazing qualities. The Mongolian way of handling is the key to truly amazing wool boots and shoes.

Life-changing materials

See how life-changing a return to the ancient styles of shoes can be. You too were made for wool. Let these shoes be a part of the revolution that will take us back to the good old ways.

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