Giving up a 50-year collection

Giving up a 50-year collection

Acquired over a period of five decades, Mr Jamshed K. Fozdar's collection of 16th to 19th century miniatures reflect a lifetime passion for Indian mythology, history and religion.

His collection includes 35 paintings from three categories - Mughal court paintings, Rajasthani paintings and Pahari paintings from the hill courts of Punjab. What makes them particularly unique and valuable is the use of vegetable dyes and crushed pearls, emeralds and gold in some of the paintings.

Mr Fozdar, 88, is selling the collection. "I am not immortal," he said. "I am quite busy with my projects. I don't have much time to enjoy them nowadays and I thought someone else should."

He is the son of famed women's rights activist Shirin Fozdar who helped establish the Syariah Court in 1958 and the Women's Charter in 1961 in Singapore. The Mumbai-born American citizen is a permanent resident who has lived here since 1987.

An engineer and physicist, Mr Fozdar said the art complements his scientific background: "One wing of the bird complements the other to enable humanity to soar skywards."

His first piece was of his namesake, a 16th century illustration of Iranian king Jamshid's exile. "I bought the first piece mainly because of my name. It tells the tale of a king who fell from grace because of his pride, so it's a lesson for me also," he joked.

Over the years he continued to add to his collection. "I am a scholar and author of comparative religion and these miniatures depict the legends and philosophies that I was studying. They also interest me because they are much older and have a certain beauty of their own."

One unique piece is that of Empress Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the Taj Mahal was built, depicted on a piece of ivory the size of a passport photo. The other paintings are each no larger than a piece of A4 paper. Among the Pahari paintings is an 18th century piece called "Krishna with Boar Incarnation of Vishnu". The artist used crushed pearls, rubies and emeralds and the brushwork is so intricate that it details even the fine hairs of the boar.

Mr Fozdar's collection is being exhibited at Galerie Belvedere until Nov 1. Prices for the paintings range from $3,500 to $12,000.

The art gallery's managing director Jaya Mohideen shared with tabla!: "Indian miniatures are small in size but meticulous in detail with fine delicate brushwork. Mr Fozdar's collection is quite rare. We feel that it is good to show the public how these miniatures evolved."

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