In the first of a new series, Anupam Ganguli, Director of Special Projects at Royal Museums Greenwich, discusses a pair of Persian carpets that remind him of his Delhi childhood, and which he bought at Christie’s in 2014
‘I have memories of my parents buying carpets when I was growing up in Delhi. During the winter months, traders would come down from the mountains of Kashmir to sell shawls and carpets door to door. I’ve inherited my mother’s love of carpets.
‘This red carpet was bought as part of a lot of two. It is square — and square carpets are uncommon: most are rectangular. I don’t know why — perhaps it has something to do with the looms. The other one, which is just out of shot, is predominantly yellow. It is decorated with fanciful little animals. There are blue moose-like creatures, scary panthers, fantasy lions, and a beast that looks like some kind of dinosaur.
‘I bought the carpets because I thought the room needed more warmth and colour. They are not Kashmiri, and not antique at all — 60 or 70 years old at most. They seem to be from Persia — the catalogue mentions the cities of Yazd and Tabriz — but there is something about them that reminds me of the Indian miniatures I collect. They have that same sort of precision, a similar attitude to detail, and certain colour combinations such as green and gold, magenta and blue.
‘I have always thought that the floor is a fifth wall; it deserves a work of art and it needs a focus. I am fascinated by textiles, and carpets are the easiest form of textile to display: you don’t have to hang them or protect them. I don’t worry about people walking on them, though I don’t wear shoes when I walk on them myself. It’s not that I’m precious about them — I just like the feel. Every carpet has a different texture depending on the weave. When you walk on a carpet barefoot, you recognise it. It is art that you can touch.
‘Nobody wanted this lot on the day of the auction, so I had it to myself. When I have bid for other things, I’ve found that the adrenalin goes sky-high, and that puts you at risk of making some very rash decisions. But the objects that you are likely to get at auction are so interesting because they are unique: you end up with something that no one else has. So really, why would you go to a shop?’