Kids Corner


Sikh Military Chic




French legionnaires, water polo players, English school pupils, Japanese sumo wrestlers, Chinese opera actors, African tribals and even Vietnamese Buddhists - when you come to think of it, uniforms are quite a profound subject.

They've kept French photographer Charles Fréger busy for over a decade, building upon his "Portraits Photographiques et Uniformes" project, which stops by Mumbai, India, this month at the Matthieu Foss Gallery in Fort.

Fréger portrays individual members of social groups - be it sports clubs, army corps or professional guilds - who demonstrate their affiliation through external signs such as uniforms, headdress, make-up, posture or even their body shape.

In India, he brings his style of contemporary portraiture to photographing the Sikh Regiment in Jharkhand.

It took him a year and a half to get through the army's red tape but it appears to be worth the effort, with their inclusion a colorful addition to an already extraordinarily diverse set of social groups.

Fréger tells GQ India: "The Sikh soldiers fascinated me for their wish to always look nice. They always check their beard and moustache and have a certain idea of aesthetics ... I really like that."


"Portraits Photographiques et Uniformes," October 6-30, 2010, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Mathieu Foss Gallery, Hansraj Damodar Building, Goa Street, Ballard Estate, Mumbai, India. Tel. +91 (0) 22 6747 7261.

October 12, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Jill Keeler (Vermont, U.S.A.), October 12, 2010, 10:27 AM.

It is so-o true! Comparing a Sikh to any other Indian is like comparing a lion with a lioness, a rooster with a chicken! The Sikh Sardar, in his full finery, has to be one of the most exquisite specimens of the homo sapiens anywhere. I know - I spent several years in India, traveled to almost every region. You would find them everywhere, and the comparison was a glaringly obvious one.

2: Harjas Kaur (New York, U.S.A.), October 12, 2010, 11:06 AM.

Men and women in uniform always cut a glorious figure. But one in a turban and beard? - there's nothing that beats a Sardar in uniform. NOBODY!

3: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), October 12, 2010, 11:16 AM.

I am at a loss for words: What elegance and distinction - a splendid picture of solicitude and polished pride. Whose heart wouldn't swell with Khalsa pride.

4: Raj (Canada), October 12, 2010, 11:48 PM.

A retired Pakistani army officer who was involved in the '48, '65 and '71 Indo-Pakistani conflicts told me that the only reason India is in it's current form is because of Sikhs. Otherwise, the Pakistani army would have done, in his Punjabi words, "Shah vela" - meaning breakfast - of the Indians.

5: Ravtej Singh (Jammu, J & K), February 11, 2011, 5:08 AM.

The whole credit goes to the perfect Master, Guru Gobind Singh. Proud to be a Sikh ...

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