Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
As I roam the auctions galleries, one name has been appearing consistently associated with the auction lots that strike me.
It is with sadness that I read the words preceding “from the estate of late”.
I googled his name and found his obituary.
I did not know him when he lived.
But through these auctions I can sense his spirit. Over years of work & travel he gathered his collection that is as deep as it broad. Seeing the diversity I think he just picked up beautiful things as he went along and got more interested in one group or another. But the astounding quality of things on offer points to a fantastic judgement and very deep interest.
I have never bothered with provenance because I worship the art and not the other worshippers or previous collectors. I do not know if Edward Gerber was famous as a collector or not and it does not matter. But through his auctions I can ‘see’ him. If I had known him previously, I am sure we would enjoyed a memorable conversation.
I saw stunning things from his estate six months ago and today, the auction house his still selling things from his estate. And not all of these are being sold as individual items – a large number are sold as wholesale lots! What a huge collection it must have been!
He must have enjoyed hunting out the pieces and reveling in their beauty. And today, the surviving relatives are left with the task of dispersing these and monetising their value.
I wonder what their thoughts are…
All this triggers reflection.
As I complete my 50th year, I need to address the subject of legacy – no matter how few my textile treasures are, they are dear. I worry about what might happen to the beautiful things that have given me joy. My textiles, my books, the saris I have worn for decades…. I wonder whether they will find loving homes afterwards. I worry about the burdens on others to deal with a collection of objects that although I might value, perhaps none others will? What if it is all wasted? What if it is all undervalued.
In the Hindu philosophy they warn against “maya” or attachment and advice one to control it. I have failed miserably to listen to that advice.
For all of us, the moment of death is likely to be filled with the pain of leaving behind loved ones and the pain of thenceforth being left out of their futures. But I suspect that my moment of death is going to be doubly painful on account of the beautiful things around me. How hard it will be to part with them. After all these artworks contribute equally to the life-breath of my soul!