Whata��s life without passion? For retired Wall Street consultant Danny Mehra, it would mean bare walls and floors. His tryst with carpets began over three decades ago, with a wedding gift from his mother-in-law. It sparked his interest in tribal carpets and, since the late a��90sa��when he could afford his first onea��hea��s been collecting them. a�?I am interestedA� in 19th century carpets that came from the Caucasian countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. As they were made by women from nomadic tribes, each pieceA� reflects the weavera��s everyday life,a�? begins the Bengaluru-based collector, who is bringing down 72 carpets (a�?a small part of my collectiona�?) for an exhibition titled Carpet Stories, at Amethyst.
Loose yet lively
Mehra has just bought his umpteenth carpet when I ring him up for a chat. a�?When you buy a carpet, you buy a story with it,a�? he says, elaborating, a�?My latest, a 200-year-old prayer rug, is badly damaged as it was in two partsa��one in Germany and the other in the USa��separated much like our a�?filmi brothersa�� at the Kumbh mela, before my dealer in Massachusetts tracked them down.a�? The 2×4 foot piece has a minimal compositiona��a green background (a rare colour to find) with a red mirab (arch). While he plans to get his restorer in Mumbai to work on any big damage, he wona��t tamper with it much because a�?I dona��t want to make an old object a new onea�?.
Speaking about the carpets, the 58-year-old explains that, unlike a Kashmiri onea��which is very refineda��tribal creations are simple and childlike. Loosely woven with sheep wool, they were made as a hobby rather than for commerce. a�?So you dona��t really look at how many knots there are per square inch, but rather their beauty. Iconography is one of their most interesting things. Though Muslims, the weaversA� had aA� liberal interpretation of Islam, stemming from their shamanistic past. So the carpets have a lot of flowers, people, animals and folklore (the Tree of Life to show everlasting life),a�? says Mehra, who spends nearly 12 hours every day, researching and reading up on them.
His desire now is to turn a nomad himself, and take the carpets around the country. Pondicherry and Mumbai are next on his agenda. a�?At the exhibition, you will find some popular styles. Like the Karakalpak, from the northern region of Uzbekistana��a happy piece with a lot of life and coloura��or a rare Karachopf from Armenia,a�? he shares. But instead of wondering if your carpet would appreciate in price, he says you must buy one only if it puts a smile on your face. After all, there is no price tag for passion.
Today till Sunday, at The Folly, Amethyst. Rs 50,000-Rs 5,00,000. Details: 45991630
a��Surya Praphulla Kumar