Buying antique and second hand furniture at Oshiwara Furniture Market in Mumbai (photo-feature)
The half a century old Oshiwara furniture market isn’t doing as brisk a business as it used to in the old days but it is still the best place to buy authentic wooden furniture, a lot of it with an interesting story behind it. This is a place where ancient wooden furniture from old houses all over the country makes its way to…and well, there are buyers still although nowadays you can see from the resigned looks on the faces of the shop owners that they don’t expect much business.
Quoting from this old article, written way back in 1999:
Unfortunately, Oshiwara Market, situated on Swami Vivekanand Road, will soon lose its identity if awareness is not generated…the culprit is the monster called urbanisation. With delicate Italian furniture, befitting French windows of contemporary houses, fast replacing the old charm, the market is heading towards a natural downfall. And with shopkeepers also being taken in by modern plywood furniture to cater to the new age customers, there’s no stopping it.
However, this isn’t really genuine antique, in the sense that the furniture is not a hundred (or more) years old, but yes, it’s old and it’s made of solid wood, rose or teak. The furniture that you will find is around 40-50 years old and if you get lucky you could pick up some beautiful pieces at a reasonable price…after bargaining. The prices can range anywhere from Rs 5000/- for an old full-size cupboard to Rs 15000/- depending on the condition of the item. At times a damaged piece could have been patched up with a piece of plywood here and there and in this case you could get it cheaper. You need to examine each piece carefully to ensure that you get a good bargain.
The supply to this market continues unabated as old houses in different parts of the country are giving way to smaller apartments and people just don’t want their old heavy furniture anymore. The traders told me that a lot of their recent stuff is coming from the southern part of the country…about 10-15 years ago the bulk of it came from Mumbai.
Here are some of the pictures from my wanderings through the market. I combined 2 photographs into one for ease of viewing. The first set is of the street where the row of shops follow one another. It was raining that day (the previous saturday) but that didn’t dampen our spirits!
This second set are photographs of the inside of the shops and you can see that it’s not just furniture but also artefacts, lamps etc which are available here:
These are some single photographs. This first one is some furniture dumped on the road…and the shopkeepers aren’t worried that it’s getting wet. It’s all wood, they explain and the furniture will not spoil unlike plywood furniture.
The shops are all small and crammed with furniture, lamps, wall-hangings, pot holders. Even the roof is used to display items.
This last picture is just a collage of some items:
The address: Ramjanak Singh Compound, Oshiwara Bridge, S.V Road, Jogeshwari, Mumbai 400102
(All photographs are by me and copyrighted)