Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rare Sikh memorabilia to go under hammer in UK today

SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE                                           Shyam Bhatia in London

A controversial 1854 memorandum to Maharaja Dalip Singh that tells of his duties as a Christian, including the need to nominate a Christian heir, is being offered for auction tomorrow (Thursday) in the UK. The author of the hand written memorandum is Sir John Spencer Login, who was appointed by the East India Company as guardian to the young and inexperienced heir of Ranjit Singh, shortly after he was deposed by the British in 1849.

Some memorabilia related to Maharaja Ranjit Singh (in pic) also to be auctioned; and (right) German prayer book given to Dalip Singh.
Some memorabilia related to Maharaja Ranjit Singh (in pic) also to be auctioned; and (right) German prayer book given to Dalip Singh. 

Born in 1838, Dalip Singh was Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s youngest son. Following the infighting after Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839, Dalip Singh was crowned in 1843, deposed in 1849, converted to Christianity in 1853 and exiled to the UK in 1854.
The fabulous Kohinoor diamond, part of his inheritance from Ranjit Singh, was taken from him and given to Queen Victoria. Nothwithstanding the efforts of the British authorities at the time, Dalip Singh responded to the call of his Sikh roots some 33 years later. Helped by his cousin, Sardar Thakar Singh Sandhawalia, he returned to the Sikh fold in 1886 in the port of Aden during an unsuccessful attempt to return to India and the Punjab.
Login’s memorandum is a timely reminder of the enormous efforts to brainwash Dalip Singh as part of a larger plan to prevent him from reclaiming his once powerful and extremely wealthy kingdom.

It was a measure of the Punjab’s importance (both strategically and financially) that when Login retired a few years later he was granted an annual pension of £300, which today would be worth £800,000 pounds (nearly Rs 6.5 crores) per year. The memorandum is part of a larger collection of Sikh, Punjabi and other Indian memorabilia that is being sold by Mullock’s auctioneers in the English county of Shropshire.

Among them is a German prayer book foisted on the young Maharaja, as part of the relentless efforts by the colonial powers to persuade him to give up his religion, roots and homeland.
Other items put up for sale include 19th century maps of the Punjab, assorted prints of the Golden Temple, a seated statue of Ranjit Singh, a drawing of Guru Har Krishan, a pen and ink sketch of Guru Gobind Singh and a print of Shaheed Bhagat Singh who was hanged for his revolutionary activities in 1931. Some other objects of interest include a gold mohur - known as a Nanakshahi - minted in the last 10 years of Ranjit Singh’s reign.

with thanks : Tribune : link above for more detailed news.

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