Shagreen (Pers. sagri, shagrain), a preparation of the skins of horses, wild asses, and camels, resembling parchment more than leather. It is a product of Astrakhan in Russia and the countries of the East. Thick strips are cut from the skins along the chine, and having been deprived of the hair and dressed in the usual process of currying, each one is stretched by strings fastened to its edges in a square wooden frame. It is kept moist, and is occasionally stretched still more, till it becomes smooth and tense as a drum head. While still moist, the hair side is sprinkled over with the hard shining black seeds of a species of chenopodium, and these being covered with a piece of felt or thick cloth, the seeds are pressed into the skin by trampling or by a simple press. The skin retaining the seeds is then dried in the shade, and being afterward beaten the seeds fall out, leaving the surface indented with their pits. The opposite smooth side is then shaved down nearly to the bottom of the pits, and on macerating the skin in water the depressions appear in little swellings on this side, which remain permanent, and become hard with the rest of the skin when dried. When the strips have been steeped in a warm solution of soda, and cleansed with salt brine, they are ready for dyeing.
Shagreen was formerly much used for scabbards of swords and for the cases of instruments, spectacles, etc.