A Tribute to Burjor Mistry
SAD NEWS FOR ALL FANS OF PARSI HEADGEAR
Burjor Mistry, the third and last generation of the Parsi hatter firm Dinshaw B. Mistry, established in 1876 and formerly of Kalbadevi, passed away last Saturday at the age of 80. Extremely low profile, Mistry was nevertheless known as the best maker in Bombay of phetas and paghrees and had an extremely loyal following. Two years ago I showed up at his door in Marine Lines, eager to talk about the history of his family business and learn more about how phetas and paghrees are made. As Mistry began talking and I took down notes, he remarked, “This is all for your own interest and not for a publication? I don’t want any publicity.” Mistry was knowledgeable about the history of phetas and paghrees and the different styles of paghrees worn by different families, such as the Desai variety which tapered out to a somewhat unwieldy 12.5 inches in width.
I returned to his apartment today to select a pheto for my wedding and heard the sad news from his niece, who is clearing out the last few items that Mistry made before he passed away. Mistry had no children and the family business ended with him. Luckily, among the remaining 20-or-so phetas was one that fit me.
Ph.D. Candidate, Modern South Asia
Department of History