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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Owl jewellery collection fascinates visitors at world conference in Pune

The Nashik-based collector Prashant Wagh presented a selection from his collection while relating how he became fascinated with the artefacts of the bird while on a trip to Hyderabad

pune Updated: Dec 03, 2019 16:50 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Prashant Wagh.
Prashant Wagh.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
         

A private collection of 512 owl jewellery items comprising pendants, earrings brooches and finger rings was one of the highlights at the four-day World Owl Conference which concluded here on Monday.

The Nashik-based collector Prashant Wagh presented a selection from his collection while relating how he became fascinated with the artefacts of the bird while on a trip to Hyderabad for the International Owl awareness day six years ago.

Wagh is not new to birds as he did his doctoral research on the Nadur Madeshwar bird sanctuary in Nashik district and claims expertise on fish and crab species in Maharashtra. However, it is the unique features of the owl and how it has been visualised by artistes and craftspeople to create jewellery items that fascinated him leading him to becoming a collector.

“I look for four kinds of jewellery- a pendant, ring, earrings and brooch. So far I have in my collection 512 owl jewellery items,” he said at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), venue of the conference. The 6th World Owl Conference was inaugurated by Nitin Kakodkar, the principal chief conservator of forests (Maharashtra) and saw the participation of national and international experts on the bird.

Owl pendants constitute the largest items in Wagh’s collection, numbering 366, followed by earrings (54), brooches (56) and 36 finger-rings.

The big eyes of the owl, and the play of colours and stones to highlight then fascinate him the most.

“I have no repeats of any design. I travel a lot and look out for owl jewellery online too. I have found items ranging in price from Rs 10 at a village fair in Sinnar, where I come from to more than Rs 1,000 for a brooch in simple aluminium, steel, gold-plating, silver, wood, feathers or oxidised metal,” he said.

“I have spent lakhs of rupees on travel and purchases to get amazing artistry and design of owls,” said the collector who is also a real estate dealer.

Wagh is superstitious about his love for Owls and says it has brought him good luck. He says his luck changed after he embarked on his owl collection.

“I used to live in a small house but now I own a 6,000 sq ft bungalow in Sinnar, with the entire top floor dedicated to my owl collection. My mother says that owls are the vehicle of Goddess Laxmi and when I began collecting them, good fortune shined upon us,” said Wagh.

He has showcased his collection in 24 frames and now educates other youngsters in his village about Owls.

“Local, rural people have so many misconceptions about this magnificent silent killer. This bird can turn its face by 270 degrees and that makes people think that it is devil incarnate. I try to clear these misconceptions and help the youth understand this species better,” he said.