The rarest of handwoven carpets are up for purchase.
Carpet collector Danny Mehra’s passion runs deep. He romanticises carpets to such an unfathomable extent that he has named his beloved pet dogs after his hobby. The male dog is named Tulu, after the Turkish long-piled and large-knot rug. The female dog is named Luri, after the Persian tribe of carpet weavers from South-Western Iran. “It’s been 25 years since I started collecting and have probably seen a million carpets so far. But the more I learn, I believe the less I know,” says Mehra who will be hosting his tenth exhibition-cum-sale of carpets titled Carpet Stories, that showcases select pieces from his personal collection at Rain Tree this weekend.
Mehra has now taken up this hobby full-time. “I spend at least 12 hours every day, reading and researching about carpets, following international auctions and collectors,” he says. Evidently, his collection is a mix of the best woven carpets from the five regions of Armenia-Azerbaijan (Caucasian), Iran (tribal-nomadic), Turkish (tribal Anatolian) and Central Asia (the Stans countries) — the hubs of native carpet weavers. He will be showcasing 80 pieces at the exhibition. One of them is a vintage piece that’s over 200 years old.
Undoubtedly, Mehra takes pride in having developed an eye to identify such authentic pieces. “There are two important components to identify an authentic handwoven piece — the composition is never rigid, it is disorganised with spontaneous designs by women weavers who improvised as they progressed. Secondly, tribal carpets are woven with a tie and knot and you cannot expect ‘so many’ knots per square inch like factory pieces,” explains the seasoned collector. With Central Asia marred by political disturbances, the art of handwoven carpets is nearly extinct, a fact elaborated by a New York Times report. “The only authentic pieces available are with collectors,” concludes Mehra. Rs 40,000 upwards. December 9-10. At Rain Tree, Vasanth Nagar. Details: 22340365
— Ayesha Tabassum