Art Matters: Carpet Land

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Art Matters: Carpet Land
The Carpet Cellar in Delhi is a specialist gallery conceived by one of India's most respected curator of carpets, Sheel Chandra. Art Matters visits this extraordinary store which is run by the passionate carpet duo of Sheel and Dhruv Chandra and looks at the unique collection of carpets that have traveled to the store from several corners of the world.

Sheel Chandra came to Delhi in the 70's and set up the Carpet Cellar in 1991 and now his ambition is to open a carpet museum to showcase his personal collection of over 300 carpets that has been kept in the Not For Sale (NFS) room at his house. One of the most interesting collections at the Carpet Cellar is the Maharaja Collection which they acquired recently from a Maharaja in Rajasthan after six years of persuasion. Dhruv says, "This is one of the best collections of fine decorative Persian carpets" but what's really special about this collection is that all the carpets are in pristine condition and made with natural colors and dyes.

This collection boasts of carpets made by the master weavers Dabir and Mohtasham of Iran as well as the famous Agra jail carpets commissioned by Akbar as an attempt to reform the prisoners. The Chandra family has managed to acquire 26 of the 33 carpets owned by the Maharaja of Rajasthan which were collected by the Maharaja's grandfather between 1880 and 1920. Most of the carpets in this collection are signed by the weaver or the person for whom it was commissioned.

Though the Maharaja collection is for sale, Sheel doesn't want his carpets to leave India and wants most of his carpets to land up in his carpet museum which he hopes will be a perfect platform to showcase and preserve his carpet legacy. The Carpet Cellar is a rare representation of the art of oriental weaving at its best and is the largest collection of its kind in India.


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