Yearly Archives: 2012

Banarasi Brocade, Mirzapur Carpets, Fantastic Samosas and some Soul-searching (Part I)

Mirzapur Tufting Centre

Back from Mumbai and off to Varanasi (also known as Banaras and Kashi). I do love my job, well some parts of it. Dealing with octroi, (still waiting for the February refund) breakages and insurance has to be my least favourite part and so I left the mess TCI Express made of my return shipment to Binaifer and off I went. The main reason was the Indian Carpet Expo in Varanasi. There were over 300 Indian carpet vendors showing off their wares and I thought it was time to do a deep dive into the carpet industry in India. To understand the entire supply chain better, I went off to Mirzapur which, along with Bhadohi, is one of the main weaving centres in this part of India. What I found was both enlightening and disturbing.

My understanding of what I see is that Indian and Pakistani handmade carpet manufacturers have …

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Arastan Gift Cards

Arastan Gift Card

Looking for a special present for someone but not quite sure what to get? Like something for yourself but can’t quite decide? Then an Arastan Gift Card is the answer…

We’re pleased to announce that we have just launched gift cards, available to buy online and in the Bangalore store. You can enter a personalised message and, if purchasing online, you can choose to have one emailed directly to you, or sent to someone else. Available in various denominations, gift cards can be used either online or in our store.

If bought by November 12th then a gift card will also get you an entry into our Festive Carpet Offer so don’t delay! 🙂

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Festive Carpet Offer

Tazenakht Pendant Carpet

Diwali is here and we are celebrating. Buy anything at Arastan between now and Diwali day and you could win this glorious Moroccan Tazenakht carpet (worth Rs 40,000)!

Any purchase either online at www.arastan.com or in our Nandi Durga Road, Bangalore store from now until the end of 12 November 2012 will get you an entry into the draw for this carpet. Each additional item you purchase gets you one more card entered into the pool, so you have many chances to win. On Diwali day itself (13 November) one of our long-term customers, and great supporter, will draw the winning card and we will contact the lucky winner on the day.

Tazenakht, in the High Atlas region of southern Morocco, is at the crossroads of mountainous routes that have witnessed the passing of trade caravans since the 16th century. It has a long history of weaving and selling Berber …

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Alisher Nazirov (Master Ceramist from Rishtan)

Alisher Nazirov

Alisher Nazirov is one of Uzbekistan’s most famous ceramists. He works from his studio-cum-workshop in Rishtan, a small town in the verdant Fergana valley, which is virtually an open air museum and visited by ceramic lovers from the world over.

Born in 1958, Alisher began working with ceramics at the tender age of 12, under the tutelage of several ustos or master craftsmen. He learnt to extract the secret ishkor glaze and supplemented his understanding with studies of archaeological finds. It has been his endeavour to restore traditional forms and patterns of Rishtan ceramics while giving free hand to innovation, the hallmark of creativity.

Today, Alisher has a well-recognised style, compositionally rich yet elegant and harmonious. His painting is inspired by direct observations from nature, and this is amply showcased in his designs which depict flowers, branches, trees and pitchers, among other things. His skillful compositions beautifully emphasize the shape of the objects he …

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Rustam Usmanov (Master Ceramist from Rishtan)

Rustam Usmanov

Rustam Usmanov’s art amply reflects the culture of the Fergana valley and the rich ceramic making heritage of Rishtan town, the oldest centre of ceramic art in Central Asia.

The Usmanov family migrated from Russia to Rishtan to add to Rishtan’s rich tradition of pottery. With Rishtan being situated on the Silk Road, the ancient major East-West trade route, it is thought that Rishtan potters may originally have tried to copy Chinese porcelain, despite the necessary kaolin clay not being locally available. This led them to the discovery of the local Rishtan clay, which more than made up for the absence of the kaolin clay. The Rishtan ceramists say their clay is so good that it does not require preliminary processing and exposure time. Adding to the beauty of the Rishtan ceramics is the ishkor glaze which gives Rishtan pottery its brilliant blue-green glaze, bringing alive the colors of the earth and …

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Kaivalam to Iran: Antique Suzanis and Other Hand-crafted Treasures

Carpets & Suzanis

Mumbai drew us back and gosh what a response – wasteful bandhs and economic slowdowns not withstanding. I loved every bit of it although I did have to part with some of my favourite pieces and my feet hurt for three days afterwards! I am already thinking how we can better this one and that thinking is leading me to venture to unknown lands – another journey and culmination with another exhibition. How exciting! Now to cross borders without anything untoward happening!

In the meantime, I am off to Chennai (if I can manage to wrangle a pass) for the World Crafts Council Summit, then to Varanasi for the India Carpet Expo and a sojourn with my artisans in and around Delhi. So many ideas, people to meet and so little time. The temptation to do a quick trip to Bodhgaya from Varanasi is great, however my current challenge is getting the …

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Spotlight: Central Asia – Arastan returns to Mumbai

Tibetan Carpet

After the great welcome we received in Mumbai earlier this year, we are back with a new treasure chest of handpicked décor items from Central Asia. We will be exhibiting at ARTISANS’, Kala Ghoda from 20th to 22nd September between 11 am and 7 pm. Highlights include vintage carpets from East Turkestan (now the Xinjiang Uyghur Region of China) and Tibet, thangkas and jewellery from Nepal, miniatures and ikat from Uzbekistan and limited edition furniture incorporating striking Central Asian fabrics created especially for us by designer Pragati Toshniwal.

Rugs from the oasis city of Khotan (now Hotan) are particular favourites of Nishas. Khotan lies on a branch of the Silk Route that headed south from Kashgar to skirt the Taklamakan Desert. This remote region of western China, ringed by mountains and desert, vaunts a millennial tradition of tribal carpet weaving. Wool-on-cotton Khotan rugs are characterised by a blend of Persian and Chinese motifs, a testament to …

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Pragati for Arastan

Pragati for Arastan

OMG Pragati! My reaction at seeing the first few pieces of the collection she has done for us. Of course I want to keep several but have to behave myself! Here is a bit about this lovely lady and the amazing collection she has created for us.

Pragati (Toshniwal ne Mathur) hails from Bundi in Rajasthan. She studied Textile Technology and Art from Sophia in Bombay and started weaving after graduating. One loom became ten over the years and she became  known for her sarees and upholstery. She says she always knew she wanted to be an artist and an archaeologist. Her inspiration coming from traditional architecture, textile and  jewellery, all available in plentiful in the havelis she grew up in Rajasthan. Her strength is clearly in using contemporary ways of using hand worked textile.

The limited edition items she has designed for Arastan are functional while retaining their origin …

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Exhibition of Karimnagar Silver Filigree

Karimnagar Silver Filigree

We are excited to host an exhibition of rare and exquisite Karimnagar silver filigree works from 6th September 2012 to 8th September 2012 between 10.30 am-6.30 pm. The exhibition also features a talk by Deepti Sudhindra (owner of The Jewelry Project) at 12 pm on 6th September. Deepti has a passion for reviving old metalsmithing techniques and using them to create exquisite filigree jewellery, which led us to work together with her on this event.

Filigree work owes its origins to the ancient Greeks, which has been a major influencing factor distinctly visible in Indian silver filigree items. Silver filigree typically constitutes thin strips of fine silver coiled into looped and zigzagged patterns, used to fill up the base designs formed out of thicker silver pieces. To achieve the required thickness (thinness in this case), pure silver is repeatedly passed through a wire drawing machine with a series of holes of …

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The Enduring Suzani

Suzani from Tashkent

No single artefact can represent the silk roads, their legacy and the Arastan journey, better than a Suzani. Arastan seeks out beautiful products with stories that often began on the fabled Silk Route. The suzani is one such perfect story of an enduring craft that has forever bound into every stitch and motif the hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears of its makers who lived in what was perhaps the harshest landscape in the world. See Arastan’s selection of vintage and new suzanis, or read on to discover more about the  culture and traditions behind this wonderful craft.

Suzani is a common term for embroidered dowry pieces (coverlets for the bridal bed, but also for made to decorate horses, tables, walls) produced for hundreds of years by the nomadic and settled women of Central Asia. Its roots are believed to be in the Fergana Valley that spreads across eastern Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan …

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    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

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