Most of the finely crafted pricey items here comes from scrap metal market at Mitford in Old Dhaka. The antique ship items come from Chattogram and Narayanganj ship yards
The mesmerising Hindu God Ganesh rests on his peacock bed, a masterfully crafted miniature made of brass. Beside him, gorgeous ancient Egyptian Goddess, Isis, spreads her wings upwards, another beautifully made tiny brass statue.
Not far from them, a laughing Buddha made of bronze can be seen.
This is not a scene from a museum, rather this is a part of an antique collection from the antique and handicrafts shops in the DCC market at Gulshan 2 of Dhaka.
Dozens of showpieces and statues of ancient deities from vastly different traditions and cultures are proudly showcased on the shelves. They are crafted mainly from brass, copper, bronze and other precious metals.
On the tables, there are fish-like padlocks, old ship compasses, binoculars, old watches and many more unidentified objects.
And above them all, there are large marine searchlights, ceiling lights, wall-clocks from ships which were sailing on the high seas some 30-40 years ago.
Unlike other markets with constant buzzing of people, everyone always being in a hurry or the haggling of customers, this market holds a different picture.
There is no chaos, it's all calm and quiet except for the sound of clinging metal every now and then.
All antique and handicrafts shops are full of items of aesthetic beauty, but remain empty most of the time in want of customers.
"I have been in this business for 30 years and we are in great loss now. I couldn't pay the manager's salary for the last two months. I am hesitating whether to continue this business or not," said M A Halim, the 60-year-old owner of Halim handicrafts.
Rabin Mandal, the manager of the shop said, "People are not interested in buying antiques anymore. We can hardly sell some wooden furniture. The sale of old ship goods or other items are extremely low."
Owner of Hossain Handicrafts, Md Shahjahan tried to explain why they are not getting customers.
"Our main buyers were the foreigners living in Gulshan area. But after the Holey Artisan tragedy, the number of foreigners living here has decreased alarmingly. They were always curious about buying these items as home decor or simply as a hobby," he said.
"Now, people are getting plastic-made replicas and low-quality China products at a much cheaper rate in New Market and some other places. So they aren't interested to spend this much money on antiques," he added.
SM Mofijul Islam Khokon, owner of Shohag Handicraft, portrayed the picture in a more detailed way, "It's true that after the Holey Artisan tragedy, the whole scenario of our business has changed. But we should also consider our socio-economic aspect here. These expensive antiques are only a matter of extreme hobby."
He also said, "Our middle-income people can't buy these items. They aren't ready to pay Tk 2,000 for a bell or a metal plate."
Some salesmen in a shop named Decorium were seen busy in dividing the whole space into two, as they have rented half of it for selling paintings. The age-old antique items are clustered together in the other half.
"Our sale for antique items is too low. So we are renting this space for selling paintings," said one of the salesmen.
In this circumstance, some owners have left this business in recent months, some are on the way to leave.
Even a few months ago, there was an antique shop named Curio Corner in the DCC market, where now a super shop exists.
Manager of Tivoli Art & Crafts Gallery, Md. Hafiz said, "We are thinking about starting a new business. It has been very difficult for us to continue it."
Proprietor of Alam Handicrafts, Md Rasel, was passing his time lying on a bed in one corner of his shop.
He said in a distressed tone, "I made only Tk 10,000 in last two months. I will wait till next January and if situation doesn't improve, I will invest into something new."
Most of the finely crafted pricey items here comes from scrap metal market at Mitford in Old Dhaka. The antique ship items come from Chattogram and Narayanganj ship yards. There is a good number of brass and copper statue makers in Dhamrai and Badda area.
Also, private collectors work with the shops who fetch antique pieces from different sources.
Beside the aesthetic value of the items, the process of collecting them adds on, which make them costly. And after all these if the sellers fail to sell these beautiful pieces, let alone make profit from them, making a living out of this business is futile.