Mughal jeweled arts mesmerize in Asia exhibit

Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:57pm EST
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By Sugita Katyal

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - How about some Mughal magnificence from a bygone era in these often frugal times?

A dazzling exhibition of jeweled art works in Singapore will transport you to the grandeur of the legendary, luxury-loving Indian dynasty through over 400 fabulous artefacts ranging from gem stones with Islamic inscriptions to jewel-encrusted daggers.

The "Treasury of the World" at the Asian Civilizations Museum is a stunning showcase of the splendor of the Mughals, who were known for their lavish lifestyle during their rule from the 16th to 19th centuries.

But the exhibition, which first opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York two months after the September 11 attacks by al Qaeda, is also an attempt to introduce another face of Islam to the world.

"It is to build bridges between cultures and expose different facets of Islamic culture to the world," said Kuwait's Sheikha Hussah Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, who along with her husband assembled the collection over four decades.

"We don't want to just project Islam as a religion but also as a culture and the values this religion represents," she told Reuters. "It is helpful to understand the culture through tangible evidence of things that people use."

The highlights of the exhibition are a nearly 250-carat balas ruby inscribed with the names of six royal rulers, an elaborately decorated dagger and scabbard with patterns of birds and flowers made from 2,000 gem stones including rubies, emeralds and diamonds, and a ruby pendant with a cameo portrait of Shah Jahan.

Shah Jahan is the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.   Continued...