Anindya Sinha and Kakoli Mukherjee, who have been residing in the City for the past 25 years, have collected owl curios from across the globe and have a whopping collection of 550 such curios in various sizes and of different materials.
“The smallest one we have is about a centimetre in height,” says Anindya. The hobby began when he caught sight of an English porcelain owl at Kakoli’s house. “That’s when it all began and we have been collecting owl curios since then. Our friends have been very instrumental in this regard and have helped us with the process. Whenever any of my friends spot any owl curios, they pick it up for us,” says Anindya.
One of the reasons why they restricted their hobby to just owl curios is that the bird features in many different cultures.
“In Chinese mythology, an owl is considered to be a symbol of wisdom due to its large eyes. In North India, it is the carriage of Goddess Lakshmi. Similarly, it is attached to Greek mythology as well. I can relate to the bird as it’s not like other birds with laterally-placed eyes. Owls have eyes that are placed in front and unlike other birds, they have to turn to see,” he adds.
The couple have about 550 types of owl curios and the biggest one is two feet tall and made of wood. “Many of the curios have been kept in Kolkata as well and they are all different in composition and design. We have owl curios made of wood, metal, precious and semi-precious stone, marble, lacquer, sandalwood, stone, leather, jute and other textiles. These come from about thirty countries and many of them have been gifted to us by our friends and acquaintances. We prefer not to buy the expensive ones,” informs Kakoli.
“Kakoli has contributed more to the collection than I have and has even painted a bird,” says Anindya, adding that he’s partial to a Japanese owl that has been gifted to him. “It’s a wooden owl, which has two shades of brown. While the inside is deep brown, the outside is of a creamy hue.
I have a whole rack that is dedicated solely to Japanese owl curios. One of them is made up of the feathers of the bird. A Gujarati owl curio made entirely out of combs is another beauty. Another one from Peru is made with a gourd and has been hand-painted and etched,” explains Anindya.
One such curio from Spain was made in the Gaudi (a Catalonian artist) style, composed of broken pieces of ceramic.
“I got a very interesting owl piece from Bangladesh. It was made entirely of jute and the eyes were made with soap nut. I feel people who have the eye for such things often spot them here and there,” mentions Kakoli.
The collection boasts of a beautiful Tibetan owl, which has been made with metals and semi-precious stones like turquoise and coral. Along with these, the collection has various owl curios which portray the transgression of art through geographical boundaries. “We found an owl made with sandalwood, which is typical of Karnataka and the same piece was made in Orissa with stone. This shows that art travels throughout the country. We have owls from Kashmir and West Bengal as well,” she adds.
For now, both of them plan to nurture their love for the bird and add more to their exquisite collection.