The name ‘Chukka’ is said to be derived from the seven and a half minute Polo playing period called a Chukker or Chukka. The term is itself derived from the Hindi word ‘chukkar’ meaning ‘circle’ or ‘turn’. Because there are different variations of uppers, it is unclear what exactly the original version looked like and how it got its name. One school of thought argues that Chukka boots got their name due to the resemblance to boots worn by Polo players, i.e. Jodhpur boots.
Others believe Chukka boots were actually used to play Polo although there seems to be little evidence to support this theory. Chances are the name was derived from the similarities between the two boots. This is supported by the fact that Chukka boots were sometimes worn by off-duty Polo players who would slip into them after a game as they were more comfortable than riding boots.
Another interesting theory is the Indian use of the word ‘chukkar’, which is also used in the context of taking a leisurely stroll or ‘turn’.
Therefore, it could be entirely possible that the name was derived from the fact that the Polo players preferred to stroll around in these boots after a game rather than in their Polo boots.
Thus, the Chukka boot could be considered a descendant or relative of the polo boot! Whichever theory you may favor, Chukka boots have certain characteristics of their own.
Features Of The Chukka Boot
- Lace-up ankle boots -they reach the ankle and no further.
- Two or three facing eyelets anything else is not a chukka boot
- Traditionally made from calfskin suede leather
- Rounded toe-box.
- Two parts each made from a single piece of leather.
- The quarters are sewn on top of the vamp.
- Open lacing.
- Thin soles.
- Soles traditionally made of leather (crepe rubber soles were later worn with desert boots)
- Historically unlined.
History Of The Chukka Boot
Due to their similarities with the Jodhpur boot, their name and the fact that they were worn by off-duty polo players, it is safe to assume that the Chukka boot originated in India among the British army units that played the game and subsequently found its way to the west, much like the Jodhpur boot. The fact that the Chukka boot was first worn in the US in 1924 by the Duke of Windsor, who had previously visited India, played a little Polo and had acquired a few pairs of Chukka boots only adds credence to the story. Subsequently, the Duke wore them regularly, abetting their rise to become a staple in men’s shoe closets in the West. The British army origins are reinforced by the fact that the British army had as standard issue a type of Chukka boot worn in the desert campaign of World War II. These boots were known as Desert boots and had a crepe rubber sole instead of a leather sole. Whatever the precise nature of their origins the Chukka boots were designed to provide both comfort and a certain amount of style, and it was precisely because of these two qualities that they became extremely popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Chukka boots were considered a comfortable alternative to be worn as both casual and dress boots.