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At home with history

Who needs new age watchamacallits when artefacts rich in history can decorate your home?



Treasure House lives up to its name.

ABOUT A hundred years ago round, huge bowls, called urulis in Malayalam, were used in large joint family households for cooking. But now they are seen as ornamental pieces — usually filled with water and flower petals floating on them.

They are an attractive addition to any drawing room however, and the old brass bowl definitely does complement any drab corner!

In metros such as Bangalore and Chennai, stores dealing in antique pieces have never had it better, with more and more people looking to add that extra touch of creativity. Most of these pieces come from dismantled old bungalows or ancestral residences, and fetch their owners a fortune from antique dealers.

Treasure House on Car Street is home to antique pieces from all over the country.

The store also has an impressive collection of curios hand picked from places as far apart as Sarangpur in Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata, Rajasthan, and even Nepal!

"We deal with antiques and artefacts primarily because we have an interest in them and not because there is business potential in this field,'' says Sooraj Kiran Nayak, who, along with his family, has been running the store since the last eight years. The family's first business venture remains the furniture production store Woodhouse.

While most of the pieces in the store are made of brass, the finish given to each piece lends a distinct look. The brass nutcrackers, for example, come in several kinds of designs and polishing. Some of them have the rusty, corroded look; others have been given a golden polishing. Although rarely used on an everyday basis nowadays, these nutcrackers can be used as decorative pieces on the walls or on wood panelling.

A chessboard made of granite with chess pieces made of brass metal in Roman style is something that really looks straight from the past. This antique piece from Aligarh costs a fortune, but there are many willing customers, says Sooraj. "Brass will always retain its price value even decades from now. It is the way a design or a structure is crafted and carved that matters. And also the polishing, which can always be touched upon," he adds.

Fine finish

Beautifully carved figurines of women in traditional Odissi costumes made in German silver are another attraction here. Brought from a village in Orissa, these figurines have been handcrafted by local craftsmen there. The German silver polish gives it just the right kind of subtlety and fine finishing that traditional crafts like these usually lack.

The popular Chinese Feng-shui crafts are also found here, such as the three-legged frog with a coin in its mouth. "This is supposed to be kept at the entrance of one's door facing inward. It is a sign of wealth flowing into the household,'' says Sooraj. He does add though that there's less demand for Feng-shui crafts now.

"Many artefacts have a certain finish which gives them an antique look. Most of these artefacts are made by village craftsmen from the remotest areas in the North,'' says Sooraj. His family takes turns to travel around the country in search of valuable, unique goods. They even have an enviable collection at their own home.

Centuries-old pillars from dismantled old bungalows in and around Dakshina Kannada and Kerala now find a place at the Nayak household.

"One needs to have a keen eye to spot that creative piece, which could even be just lying around ignored. One of the oldest brass vessels that was found at my home has now been converted into a washbasin,'' he says.

Goodbye ceramics and concrete. The past is making a comeback now!

Treasure House is at No.1, Arathy Place, Car Street. You can contact the store on 2494488 or 514844.

ANJU NARAYANAN

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