Wonders of India: The Warehouse of Mr. Negi

New block-print duvet design

New block-print duvet design

We come to India to work.  No, seriously, we do.  It’s just that one happy part of our business is going to great places and buying beautiful things.  One of our favorite places is the warehouse of Mr. Negi.

antique mask from MahrashtraMr.Negi, a native of Siliguri (the jumping-off point in East India for Sikkim- see the last two blogs) used to have a tribal art and antique business in Nepal, but was forced to leave three years ago when the Maoists made life too difficult for non-Nepalese.  He moved his entire collection to a warehouse near Delhi, which is three delightful levels of dusty treasure of all descriptions.  What drew us to him originally was his Tibetan doors, and he has a substantial assortment of architectural oddities including totemic water buffalo gates and Tantric prayer shrines.   We can’t possibly haul such big pieces around in a moving shop, but we couldn’t resist two amazing masks.  One is recent, and from Sikkim: red-faced Mahakala, who turns the wheel of life and death.  It was used in temple dance festivals there.  The other is an antique from Maharastra. That is all Mr. Negi knew about it and we couldn’t find out wood-bowlanything more from the internet, but it’s an obvious masterpiece.  These are the only two we have.  If you would like to put in an offer on either, the starting price is listed below.

If you came to our sales last year, you might have noticed a large hand-carved bowl on the scarf table that we used for display.  We only had one, and we could’ve sold it many times over.  This year we have lots, in three sizes (which being individual hand-made pieces, vary.  The one pictured here is medium. Large are roughly 30″ to 36″ in diameter , and metal water potssmall are 12″ to 18″).  Prices for these and other things are also listed below.

On the topic of containers, we are also stocking far more of these old metal water jugs.  We sold out before most people had a chance to see them last year.

New in the store are two things (among many others) that caught our fancy: a very elegant display bowl carved from a single piece of wood, (approx. 20 inches high) from Nepal, and a curious figure that could be used as a “grump” receptacle.  Mr. GrumpsHad a bad day?  Is your kid having a bad day?  Well, transfer that negative energy to “Mr. Grumps”, and everyone will feel so much better!  They are from Nepal, and approx. 12 inches tall.

It would be far too exhaustive to post all of our new goods here. I’ll try to get more up on the web site.  Wood and metal objects, however interesting, aren’t our main business, and we have increased our selection of scarves (if you can believe it) and started a new line of duvet covers.  These we are very excited about, since they take hand block-printing to a block print designnew level.  We found Vikram in an exhaustive search of Sanganeer (the block printing capital of the world).  We were actually trying to find a legendary screen-printer, whose name we had and lost, who made designs like no one has seen before.  We never did find him, and decided to give up when we came across Vikram.  Vikram has a small production unit and only displays outside of India at the Maison d’Object juried show in Paris.  Katheryn nearly bit her arm off keeping our selection down to six designs.  The beauty of Vikram’s pieces is that they are all reversable, having a complimentary pattern on each side (as are the pillows).  All the sets are queen size, done on high-quality cambric cotton.

This year’s trip to Delhi was made all the more pleasant by the presence of our friend Boris.  We met Boris in Burma in 2005, and always get together with him in Bangkok where he has a business designing and producing décor goods for Europe.  With the drop in the value of the Euro, and the general economic down-turn on the continent Boris decided to come to India to see what could be sourced here.  He came with us to Mr. Negi’s, and loved the stuff, but since he requires uniform production on a much bigger scale, it wasn’t for him.  Then we accompanied him to Moradabad which is a city about four hours east of Delhi where much of the country’s metal work takes place.  Most of the goods weren’t what we were looking for, but we found tiffinwhere two of the things we love in India are made.  One is a stainless steel serving bowl with an electric-plated copper coating, which is given a hand-hammered finish. We have admired them in good-quality restaurants all over India.  The other is the “tiffin container”.  It is the “Indian lunch box”, a masterpiece of simplicity consisting of stacking stainless steel bowls which hold the curries, rice and rotis separate, and are all held together by a clamp which acts as a standhandle.  Now, what we could do is start producing our own line, and even have the stacking bowls done in different colours.  The question is are the Gulf Islands ready for it?

Price list:

Antique Maharashtra mask $460.

Bhutan Mahakala mask $250.

Wood bowls Large $75; Medium $50; Small $35.Mahakala Mask from Bhutan

Metal water pots $50.

Mr. Grumps Statues $40.

Stand carved from single piece of wood $180

Our shipment from India is just being finalized.  If you want first dibs on any of the above items, drop us an email, and we will hold them when they arrive in Vancouver in April.  Then we will arrange to have them shipped, picked up or delivered.  Shipping from Vancouver is extra.

We wish everybody all the best in the New Year,

Your Foreign Devil Correspondents,

David and Katheryn