Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
Why do we collect antiques?
Why do I collect antiques?
It could be to get as close as possible to the past. It is the only way to capture the moments gone by and feel a sense of “possessing” cultural history. It sounds very lame in concept but when I hold a manuscript in my hands and study the artistically handwritten words, the paintings, the script that I cannot read, the paper that was made by someone’s hands a few decades ago, and try to pursue the meaning in it all without the slightest hope of understanding it, my fantasy takes over and I spend time in an imagined past aided by everything that I have read about the cultural paradigm of the object. So, even though I haven’t captured those moments of the object’s life, I have managed a very real mental journey.
It could be to get back the times when my grandma would sit around examining some beautiful old chaniyas and tell me – then just a 5 or 6 year old – that these are from the olden days. The wistfulness and the camouflaged hopelessness was not lost on me – maybe that is why I collect. [This was in the era when polyester and artificial silk were the rage in India – the late 60s and early 70s.]
The voice was calm but the tone was screaming “Koi lauta de mere beetey huey din”…. [translates roughly to – someone please return all those days that have gone by and are lost in the past]
The song that made these words famous:
The brilliance of the lyrics lies in the fact that the soul is yearning for the days gone rather than the people.
The people might all be the same and still around us …. but those days in which we did those things will never come again. And those times lost in the past are the greatest ache of life.
Inseparable from the sentiment attached to the memory, the past has a halo that the more-than-perfect present simply cannot compete with …
And so I collect old things … as a balm for those aches.