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

Carpets & Suzanis

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 Christmas ornament collection done in time for Christmas! Quite different to last year so stay tuned.

Pragati for Arastan Collection

Pragati for Arastan Collection

The exhibition in Mumbai had several firsts. We had limited edition furniture and antique suzanis that did very well. It was great seeing the pieces I had bought in Uzbekistan or come across with a collector be appreciated. My love affair with Uzbekistan (and trauma with the toilets!) is well documented but my fascination with the silk route really started when I was eight and travelled to Tehran (the year before war broke out), London, Rome and Cairo with my father. It was my parents way of making up for the fact that they had sent me to boarding school on an isolated hill top and away from my cosy primary school Besant Montessori in Bombay. I was thrilled to see the latter featured in the rather poignant film Stanley ka Dabba. My little school, delightfully unchanged.

My memory of Tehran is confused but not so of the crown jewels. That remains etched in my memory for ever. The bejewelled thrones, crowns, overflowing baskets of precious stones, necklaces were, for me at eight, quite beyond compare. To go back to Iran will be going full circle. Cairo was fascinating while the pyramids and sphinx were overpowering, somewhat unreal. My daughter is obsessed with mummies and the sphinx but still harbours the belief that somehow her mummy will be mummified so won’t hear of me going to Egypt! I need to work on her but if you haven’t seen it already, do watch the BBC Egypt Series and get a glimpse of the fascinating life of Giovanni Battista Belzoni and the treasures he found. To be Giovanni…

Many journeys await. To our customers and supporters that follow and share in them, thank you for doing so.


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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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