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藏品轶事 | A Houseboat in Kashmir

Gandhara Stucco Head of a Buddhisattva, purchased in Kashmir in 1969.

Kashmir in the 1960s was as close to paradise as any traveller could come.

I used to rent a houseboat on Dal Lake, the stunning lake close to Srinagar, filled with water lilies and with mountains all around it. The houseboat was about twenty metres long, built from the most beautiful, finely carved woods, with three bedrooms, a sitting room and a dining room, and two large outdoor decks. It came with two cooks, a cleaner, a boat boy and a guide, and it cost me less than ten dollars a day in black market rupees.

When the news spread that I was interested in antiques, there was a flow of visits from dealers who would arrive in their shikaras - gondola-like skiffs that were paddled from the stern. They would climb on board and spread out their wares on the dining table.

Many of them seemed to be related, cousins, brothers, uncles, nephews, from the same extended family. A lot of the time they would bad mouth each other, but I learned a lot by being able to cross-reference the different stories they told me.


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