We’ve shared stories from our buying trips around the globe, and in continuing that trend, this month we’ll share our experiences from our most recent Indian furniture buying trip. Here’s some insight into the beautiful Indian culture, their artisan specialties and links to El Paso Import Company’s most popular Indian furniture items. Live well-traveled!
India is an old country – much like Europe – so when you visit, you’ll see castles, forts, old homes, big, beautiful colonial doors, buildings with thick walls and gorgeous courtyards inside. It’s always such a visual feast to visit India!
The country is also one of the oldest democracies in the world. The people of India speak over 180 different languages and practice a multitude of religions, yet somehow, they’ve continued to make it all work. Economically speaking, India is very pro small-business. So much so, they have been reluctant to let big-box stores into their marketplaces because if they did, their small businesses could suffer.
Like the spice-filled air you’ll smell when you arrive, every aspect of Indian life is full of flavor. The people of India have a deep appreciation for beauty and color and because of this, attention to detail directs their entire creative process when making Indian furniture.
You can still find traditional wood carvers and carpenters all over India. Almost all of their furniture is individually handmade and their ornamentation is beautifully and meticulously hand carved or hand painted. Other countries tend to mass assemble their furniture to save time and reduce costs. Though great for efficiency, the ‘magic’ of the handmade is lost in an assembly line.
Even with this ingrained appreciation for the unique and handmade, Indian culture is slowly changing with each new generation, and these assembly lines are starting to creep their way into the country.
From a business standpoint, sourcing imports from India is a great experience because furniture makers don’t just cater to large companies. Indian furniture artisans are happy to sell in small amounts to smaller businesses such as El Paso Import Company.
These Indian artisans take a lot of pride in owning their very own businesses; so whether they’re selling vegetables on the corner or selling furniture, they appreciate any and all the business they can get.
No trip to India would be complete without a tour for our taste buds! When we visit, we can’t get enough of their tandoor chicken, lentils, and vegetables (if they’re steamed). You’ll notice that beef is not on any Indian menus and for very good reason. Indian culture respects and reveres cows because of their gentle nature and their agricultural contributions.
In previous years you would see cows everywhere; even lazily laying in the middle of a heavily trafficked street! Nowadays, you won’t see as many cows in the city centers, as they can make an already challenging traffic situation even worse. In all other Indian states, you’ll see beautiful Brahmas with graceful horns and a healthy hump on their backs. You’ll also see a lot of goats and water buffalo mingling with humans.
One of the things that Indian artisans do the best is creatively incorporating old things with new elements. Take for example, an old temple door – they’ll restore it, then turn it into something new and beautiful, such as a headboard or a dining table.
Furniture makers in India tend to use a lot of sheesham, acacia, and reclaimed woods. Sheesham is only found in India, Pakistan and Nepal and is a very valuable timber held in high regard. Sheesham is also known as ‘Indian Rosewood’. There are at least 1000 different varieties of acacia wood, but Indian acacia is particularly sought after for its hardiness.
Indian textiles are also extremely popular – colorful, hand embroidered, mirror work, and silk-screened designs are signature looks that add a bit of culture and whimsy to your home.
El Paso Import Company has a few antique Indian wedding chests in stock. These special pieces have interesting history: when a couple gets married, the cart gets rolled down the streets of India and neighbors can drop in gifts or money for the newlyweds.
Here are a few favorites from India that we have in stock. Every item we sell has a rich history, and we’re always happy to take time to tell our customers a remarkable story! Shop around a bit below: