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Title: Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Classification: Photograph

Artist(s): Unknown

Date: 19th century

Dimensions: H. 13 in. x W. 10 in.

Museum number: S.M.68 (N.M.1961.346) 

Physical location: Section 1: Paintings, Prints, and Photographs

Collection: Princess Bamba Collection

Bibliographic Reference(s): F. A. Khan, The Princess Bamba Collection Catalogue: Antiquities of Sikh Period (Lahore: Department of Archaeology, 1961), 11, cat. no. 56.

This sepia print of a miniature painting by an unknown Indian artist shows Maharaja Ranjit Singh riding a white horse with a sword belt at his waist and a shield slung on his back. This shield is closely comparable to a round leather shield in the Sikh Gallery collection (museum number 1062). The painting shows two of the four bosses and the crescent above them. The Maharaja wears two bāzū-bands or armlets around his upper arm, one of which has the famous Koh-i Noor studded in it and his sar-pēsh or the turban jewel appears to have large precious stones dangling on his forehead. In spite of his long white beard denoting his advanced years, he is shown as an energetic rider fully in control of his mount. The finely embroidered saddle-blanket and the bejeweled trappings we see in this painting could mean that this mount is his favorite mare Laila. The Maharaja’s court chronicles and European travelogues all attest to the Maharaja’s fondness of seeing his horses bedecked with precious stones strung in silver and gold ornaments. To enhance the majestic position of the Maharaja, the artist has shown four attendants are on foot around him. One is an umbrella or ćhattar-bearer walking a few steps behind him and three lance-bearers as his bodyguards are a few steps ahead of him as if clearing the way for their master.

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