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18th century carpet finds home

Danny Mehra got ancient rug from AnatoiIa, which lies between Black and Mediterranean Seas.

Published: 02nd September 2017 08:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd September 2017 08:24 AM   |  A+A-

Danny with his dogs Luri and Tulu

Express News Service

BENGALURU: A majority of collectors believe in investing in unusual artifacts, and a small majority of them invest in carpets.

There are about 500 carpet collectors in the world today.

One such collector is Bengalurean Danny Mehra, who will be hosting an event on carpet story-telling and introducing his new private studio at Primrose Road on Saturday.  

He was introduced to the world of rugs in 1983, when his mother-in-law gifted him two tribal printed carpets in the US as his marriage gift. “I wish my mother-in-law had not gifted me because now I am this mad person on a carpet hunt. I am so seduced by tribal carpet’s imperfection,” says Danny.

At the age of 60, after his voluntary retirement four years ago, the obsession has only grown. He does not want to disclose the number of carpets he has as of today and calls it his “best kept secret,” but says that the collection has outgrown his living room and that is why the new store is introduced, which will house most of his ancient rugs.

His oldest rug dates back to the 18th century and it was obtained from Anatolia, a crossroad of ancient civilisation that lies between Black and Mediterranean Seas. In this category, he mostly owns rugs that are of the 19th and 20th century from Central Asian countries such as Armenia, Georgia as well as the current conflict zone of Syria and Iraq.

Order in Chaos

The 18th century carpet from
Anatolia

Danny claims that almost all of the carpets he has acquired are hand-woven by women. “A hand-woven carpet is a weaver telling stories,” says Danny.

“During the ancient days, women weaved carpets for domestic purpose and designed symmetries they saw around,” he adds. Danny says he has learned a lot by delving into the madness of carpets and has till date read over 500 books on it. “I will either be reading about carpets or on the look out for new ones about 13-14 hours a day,” he says.

One of the major lesson he has learnt as a carpet collector is to see beauty in imperfection. “People often think that beauty is symmetry, but by adoring tribal carpets I’ve seen the beauty of abstraction and incomplete artwork,” he adds.

Most of his carpet collections are also those in fragments such as the Blossom carpet of 19th century that is incomplete but adorned with colourful flowers.

As a collector of coins and stamps, the collector know what’s missing in the collection box. But as a carpet collector, how do you know you’re missing a carpet? The answer is you will never know and the hunt is forever on. “But the joy is on the hunt,” laughs Danny.

“Carpet collectors travel quite a bit,” he says. “But I have stopped buying carpets from places I visit because they sell more of tourist carpets and not authentic ones. It is quite easy to cook up a story on carpets to sell,” he adds. But luckily, he has not been conned, he sighs.  

New carpet space

The 3,000 sq ft studio will house 90 per cent of his collections. Danny has been hosting carpet exhibition in various cities including Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru from five years. Most of his shows have been a private affair and the new studio too will be one. A person interested to see or even buy the carpet has to book an appointment. Danny has been selling carpets, besides collecting, “making space for new ones,” he shares.

The new apartment studio is also a big relief for him personally, because he used to display his carpet collection to dealers and potential buyers at his own living room, placing almost 25 carpets on the wall. He has not thought of the name of his studio yet, but as since his two dogs are named after carpets namely Luri and Tulu, he is considering the name.

The event is hosted by Silvertalkies, a social platform for senior citizens established in 2011.

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