The Material Question

‘I chose several qualified persons from those who had come there with me and also from those of my relatives who had lived there a long time, and, having taught them how to assist me, I very quickly organized a serious business in carpets.

‘Some of my assistants went round in Tiflis and the neighbouring towns and searched for and bought up all sorts of carpets; a second group washed and cleaned them, while a third repaired them. The carpets were then sorted out and some of them were sold retail, and the others wholesale—either for the local trade or for export to Constantinople.

‘By the third week this carpet business had begun to bring in such an income that there was not only sufficient money for all to live on, but a great deal left over. In view of these profits and the obviously still greater prospects of this business, the desire arose in me to establish my Institute on a temporary basis there, without waiting for peace and my return to Moscow; the more so as I had always intended to open a branch of the Institute in Tiflis.

‘While continuing the carpet business I therefore set about organizing the Institute; but it soon became clear, in view of the great housing crisis in Tiflis at the time, that it would be impossible for me to find quarters suitable for my purpose unaided, and I applied to the Georgian government for assistance.

‘The Georgian government met me half­way, and directed the mayor of Tiflis to assist me in every way to find a building “worthy of such an important establishment of general public significance”, and to place it entirely at my disposal. The mayor himself, and several members of the municipal council who were interested in my work, were indeed very assiduous in searching for the necessary building. But in spite of all their good will they could not find anything suitable, and offered me temporary quarters, promising to change them shortly for something permanent and more adequate.

‘Thus, for the third time, I began the organization of the Institute, and first of all set about the same inevitable business of acquiring the necessary furnishings and equipment.