Mobile museum of rocks, minerals

Makki has rare collection of stones: Makki owns over 1,000 exhibits worth several crores

Mobile museum of rocks, minerals
Huge claws of a T-Rex dinosaur that would take you to the world of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, massive amethyst crystals and a meteorite that fell in Siberia in Russia that remind of Carl Sagan's Cosmos are part of his collection. Besides them, he owns hundreds of small precious stones, which would hold visitors in awe and expose them to a new world of stones.

Interestingly, all these are held by one man and he answers to the name of Makki. He is virtually a mobile museum. Whether it is something extra-terrestrial or buried in mounds or deep inside the earth, he has almost everything. He has ruby, agate, amethyst and many more.

“You need to touch them, feel them and experience them,” says 68-year-old Muhammad Fasihuddin Makki about his exhibits. He is not touchy about anyone touching specimens and insists that students need to be brought closer to them to change their perspective about stones.

Collecting and selling stones are his hobby as well as profession. “It's my passion and I love it... my bread and butter are minerals,” he said. “I am taking stones to the doorstep of people for them to develop love for them,” said Makki, who has no formal training in geology. In fact, Makki is a Master's in English  and calls himself a “pujari of Laxmi and Saraswati".

The Pune-based Makki is the founder of Matrix India and also runs a touring museum. His personal collection is displayed in exhibitions across India. He has participated in several exhibitions, conferences and auctions abroad. He has been supplying rocks and minerals to schools and colleges. He also runs one of the biggest agencies in the world  involved in exporting and importing rocks and minerals.

“We offer a variety of minerals from spectacular specimens for collectors to large stock of supplies to wholesale buyers. We have a ready stock of different rough materials from India and we regularly add to our inventory freshly mined new specimens from the Deccan Traps,” said Makki. They also supply boulders and large colourful rocks for landscaping and interior decoration.

Makki is a member of various associations, including Minerological Society of India, Minerological Society of America, Collectors Society of India, Volcanological Society of India, Euromineral France and Mineralientage Germany.

The family of Makki hails from Karnataka and his father was into collecting minerals. “I picked it up from him,” he said. It has been close to five decades into this profession and hobby. “I love this and it keeps me going,” he said. He takes over 1,000 specimens for exhibitions and their value will be several crores.

“I do not charge any money or take remuneration.The institutions where I arrange these mineral and fossil exhibitions arrange for my accommodation and for my two or three assistants. The organisers bear the cost of transporting exhibits like stones from Pune. Some of the exhibits are quite heavy and many of them weigh more than 100 kg,” he said.

His son Sami has started helping him in the business and in arranging these educational earth science exhibitions.

The most precious among the specimens in his collection is a meteorite. It looks small but it is over 8 kg, he smiles. “It fell in 1947 in Sikhote-Alin in Siberia. In 1994, I visited an exhibition in the United States, where this was auctioned....  I did not hesitate, bid for it and bought it... it was quite a sum, but it is a rare collection,” he says.

He recently held “Exhibition of Rocks, Minerals & Archaeological Antiques” and it was hosted by the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (CEMS) of the University of Mumbai in collaboration with the INSTUCEN (India Study Centre) Trust, and the Deccan College of Pune. “I want people to touch them, photograph them... it is a kind of a bond...it is a rock. Minerals do not have life, but once you touch and feel it, you are in a totally different world,” he says passionately.

He said, “The trilobites are over 400 million years old.  These are the oldest fossils with me. Dinosaurs became extinct 60 million years ago. I have dinosaur fossils with me and in fact children love to see them. They often want to touch and see and I do not object. Today one can see dinosaurs in films or on television. When children see a live claw or egg or remains they get excited," points out Makki.

Explaining how he goes about his collection, he said: “I do mining and collection from all parts of India. I have set aside a lot of large exotic colourful mineral specimens as my personal collection and in addition to that I also acquire many different kinds of colourful and interesting mineral specimens found in other countries. I buy from other dealers or exchange with my specimens and in this way over the years I have accumulated a huge collection of colourful crystalline mineral specimens from all over the world.”

India, he says, is a treasure house of minerals and the Geological Society of India and Geological Survey of India have been doing a great job. “Collection and exhibition of  rocks and minerals offer good careers,” he claims.

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