Sarajo, the creation of Yosi Barzilai, was one of SoHo’s premier gallery destinations for thirty-five years. Yosi, who hails from Israel and was exposed to Islamic art during his upbringing, embarked on this artistic journey after graduating from art school. Prior to that, he had worked in his family’s diamond business, which, while lucrative, failed to satisfy his creative soul. Yosi, sometimes known as Joe, later joined forces with Sarah Penn, the renowned proprietor of Knobkerry, resulting in the birth of the amalgamated name Sarajo. Sarajo’s initial establishment graced the intersection of Broadway and Prince, but it underwent six relocations, including a brief sojourn in Portland, Maine.
Originally purveying a diverse array of ethnographic artifacts, Sarajo underwent a transformation into a distinctive gallery specializing in textiles and costumes. Its clientele comprised creative talents within the fashion and interior decorating industries, along with collectors and museums across the United States and around the globe. From luminaries such as Miuccia Prada and Peter Marino to icons like Kate Moss and Mick Jagger, the client roster attested to Yosi’s unwavering commitment to offering the finest and most rare treasures. Under the new stewardship of Jess Petino, Sarajo has transitioned to a more modest location, necessitating a reduction in the size of its extensive inventory, which brings us to this auction.
The lots featured in this sale encompass a captivating diversity, including a notable selection of North African pieces. Noteworthy among these is a generously proportioned triple-width embroidered curtain from Algeria (lot 002). The Sub-Saharan offerings feature a meticulously beaded skirt from Tanzania (lot 501) and a charming Ghana Boy outfit from Mali (lot 513).
Standouts within the South Asian category include a finely crafted, diminutive Kinkhab brocade, likely created for a 19th-century world fair exhibit (lot 157), an exquisite white Kashmiri shawl of exceptional quality (lot 167), and a handsomely patinated cabinet from South India (lot 195).
The Central Asian section boasts a whimsical large medallion 19th-century Suzani adorned with an unusual design (lot 221).
Meanwhile, the Oceanic section showcases a rare 19th-century Maori cape featuring a wool border, quite possibly fashioned from the first sheep imported to New Zealand from Europe (lot 433). In the South Asian section, an exceptionally rare and immaculate sarong crafted on the Malayan coast beckons collectors (lot 364).