Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

Myth buster: antiques or handicrafts?

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Industries by Sherpa Hossainy on February 1, 2011

Published in The Daily Star’s Business section (in the special page — Business Life) on 31st January 2011

Read the article on The Daily Star website

Digital print edition

If you ask someone in Dhaka the whereabouts of an antique shop, they might give you the address of Gulshan 2 DCC market, which has many shops displaying marvellously crafted metal products, some are old and some are new.

Are they truly antiques? What qualifies a thing to be termed as “antique”?

According to Wikipedia: antiques are, “an item which is at least 100 years old and is collected or desirable due to rarity, condition, utility, or some other unique feature.” Another general rule of thumb is 75 years for most objects to become antiques.

Different exhibits are up for sale at a so-called marine antiques shop in Chittagong.

When asked, a shopkeeper said that he has no clue how the name “antique” was tagged with this market. “We don’t know anything about any shop or business related to antiques here. Some inexperienced and unprofessional people come here and assume some old items from the ships as antiques.”

A shop owner exclaimed, “They don’t even know what antique is for God’s sake! They come in and say, Oh great! That’s a beautiful antique.”

The replicas of deities that come from Dhamrai have been in the making since the British era. After making the product, some of the owners want them polished and others want it to look a bit rusty and old.

“If someone comes and says that’s an antique, why would I just go into any arguments? Whatever the customers say is right,” said another shop owner.

“What’s the point of doing any squabble? I want to sell the products, not to teach definitions — it is not my headache to know, by whatever name the customers call it. But, the idea of those products being called antiques, is completely wrong I have to say.”

The shop owners said, “If some telegraph wire or steering wheel from a ship is considered as antiques what can we do? We have nothing to say as we only want to sell the product.”

Answering to the question, what they think the market should be called, they said it’s pretty simple — metal handicrafts market or simply handicrafts market, although there are also fancy wooden items too, but very few in numbers.

So, one of these days, when you find your neighbour boasting about an amazing antique bought from Gulshan 2 market, rather than being jealous, you just might try to bust the myth.

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