What does our name mean?
We are often asked what the name of the store refers to. The word Haveli is derived from pre-Islamic Persian, and describes an enclosed area. This is a very apt description for these dwellings that face inward to a central courtyard surrounded by walls with only the upper façade looking out to the world. To the trader and nobility of Rajasthan, northwestern India, the haveli was his home, his status, his headquarters and his fortification.
The initial building of these dwellings is attributed to the Rajput rulers of Rajasthan beginning in the 16th century to house their court officials and nobles. Nearing the end of the 18th century, this shifted to wealthy Hindu traders located on the trading routes. These routes expedited the movement of commodities such as cotton, spices and opium from the busy port of Surat to Delhi.
Approaching the haveli, you are greeted at the entrance by a set of massive iron/wooden gates, which are generally kept, locked and opened only for entry of goods or a family celebration. There is however a small door through which the occupants of the house are able to come and go as part of their daily routines. After entering, there were generally two small rooms which were used by the watchmen or chowkidars, whose responsibility it was to control the opening of the gates and general security.
Once beyond this checkpoint, you entered the first court which was the court of business, where the owner would negotiate his business transactions and in some cases store goods. The next court, entered thru a beautiful door, was the inner sanctum of the family. The courtyard was surrounded by sleeping rooms and kitchens and was where dally life was led. All of these walls would have been rubbed with a white plaster finish and, as in the Shekharwati region, painted with wonderful paintings of religious and cultural subjects.
This is a very simplified explanation of the haveli, as the diversity of structure and size varies from area to area. The pictures posted here are from the Shekharwati region that I visited and find extremely fascinating. Unfortunately, many of the old havelis have fallen into disrepair, the families have left these traditional homes and keep the properties locked.
About David Anderson
I grew up with a subscription to National Geographic; I would wait impatiently in my small Ontario town for the next issue to take me to places and people unknown. It was this inspiration that led me as a teenager to travel. At the young age of 17, I found myself in a truck driving through the winter snows of Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan on my seemly pilgrimage to India. The bazaars attracted me to the endless variety of products, foods and people – from the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul to a fruit market in Khandahar to the great Chandi Chowk of New Delhi, all of these an expression of cultures unknown. I turned 18 on this year-long trip, and after exhausting my meager finances, I returned to Canada with one thought on my mind: how and when could I continue my adventures?
During several trips to Mexico and Central America, I honed my expertise at bazaars, buying and selling crafts. Thus started 30 years of being split between two worlds, the East and the West. I returned to Kabul at that time, a city in transition from the past to an unknown future. In Kabul I learned the value of your word, to mean what you say both in life and in business, and I was fascinated by the strength of the mountains that keep these people. I became totally captivated by the craft art that flowed from Central Asia to this city, embroidery beyond comparison, carpets of colour and intricacy all from this rough and inhospitable land. Thus my passion was born for textiles. Unfortunately, the situation in Afghanistan spiraled downward, and after it almost taking my life, I moved down to the plains of India.
I moved further into textiles, as the garment and textile industry of India was in its genesis at the time. I opened an India export office and started to manufacture garments. This was my passion for 20 years; designing fabric, prints and embroidery that could be sold in the West. This was a fabulous experience that took me to many regional centers of India, learning the process of dyeing, weaving and printing, all of which varied from town to town. I must thank all the great people that I learnt from, the taxi “wallahs“ who I learned my Hindi from, to Joyti who taught thread counts, to Mr. Sawhney who taught me how to print fabric, and all my staff that taught me how to live in India.
This came to an end (which is another story) and I then moved to work in China and Korea – a wealth of knowledge of another side of Asia.
2007: Time to go back to India once again. This time to find and create things that I personally had always enjoyed and collected for myself, thus the creation of the current journey, Haveli Home. My expression of the best of India, the colour, shape and texture of the thousands of talented craftspeople of India. Haveli Home is the platform for this experience and I do hope you enjoy it as much I do in presenting it to you.
Namaste/ Salaam Akleccm/ Jai Hind