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~ Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji's Body Armour Up For Sale ~

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Next month witnesses the most important auctions of a generation for the Sikh community as a rare piece of body armour that experts believe belonged to the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, will be auctioned in one of London’s most prestigious auction houses.

The armour plate carries the opening verse of “Akal Ustat” as found on the Guru’s personal “Raikot” sword:

The inscription has been delicately applied on the plate’s central panel in gold koftgari, the traditional technique of overlaying gold wire onto a steel surface. The floral border and buckles that would have fastened the set together with straps are also lavishly decorated in gold koftgari work.

In keeping with the highest standards associated with the Guru’s personal armoury, the plate’s central panel has been forged from “watered steel”, a fabled material better known in the West as Damascus Steel.

Full article and info at: http://www.punjabheritage.org/material-her...ammer-2203.html

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It's from a private collection - check out the Sotheby's web page. http://www.sothebys.com/app/servlets/Event...;event_id=28711

It would be interesting to know how it came to be in the current owner's possession. Saying that, nowhere does it say that it belonged to Guru Ji!

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I doubt it belonged to Guru Gobind Singh. The auctioneers have been very clever and although denying that it belonged to Guru Gobind Singh they will be happy that these rumours continue. The armour kept with the Patiala royal family is much more likely to been the original. At best this could be a copy made many years later. No doubt some fool with more money than sense will pay over the odds for this piece.

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It's funny how everyone (Sikhs and sikh institutions) all over the world jump and shout about a probable relic, yet are quiet on more important matters like the present administration, decay of Gurdwara (like the recent Hazoor Sahib palava), digitising of all our exisitng granths and historic records, sponsoring more research and translations of the aforementioned, expanding more academic Sikh institutes, dealing with the numerous societal, political and religious problems that plague our community world over and Punjab.

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You can sleep again now.

Sikh Armor Withdrawn Amid Protest on $32 Million Sale

News Source: http://www.bloomberg.com

April 7 (Bloomberg) -- Sikh armor, one of the star lots of three days of 16 million-pound ($32 million) Islamic and Indian art sales in London, has been withdrawn after protests.

The 18th-century steel plate was due to be auctioned by Sotheby's on April 9. That sparked calls for its withdrawal from Sikh leaders who believe it is a sacred relic that belonged to the guru Gobind Singh.

The sales, which also include auctions at Christie's International and Bonhams, will test demand from collectors as credit losses mount. Islamic and Indian art, with their historical and cultural connections, are traditionally regarded as a combined sale category by international auction houses.

"Sotheby's have some very good things. The withdrawal of the Sikh armor won't change perceptions of the sale," said London- based Islamic-art dealer Brendan Lynch. "One or two lots are often withdrawn from auctions and it wasn't necessarily the finest thing in the sale."

Sotheby's said in an e-mailed release that the unnamed seller of the armor, valued at 10,000 pounds to 12,000 pounds, had asked the auction house "to arrange the acquisition of the lot by a suitable member of the Sikh community."

Appeal to Queen

Sikhs had written to the U.K.'s Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Gordon Brown asking for the sale to be blocked, the London-based Times said on April 3.

Extra demand from Qatar and Dubai has boosted Islamic and Indian art in recent sales, dealers said.

"New museums and Middle Eastern private buyers with oil money are pushing up auction prices," London-based art dealer Simon Ray said in a telephone interview. "This is bringing good things into the salerooms."

Sotheby's said its sale is the most important it has ever held for Islamic art and includes 397 lots of metalwork, ceramics, glass, textiles and calligraphy. It is estimated to reach at least 9 million pounds.

A 14th-century royal-inscribed gold and enamel belt-buckle from Islamic Spain is valued in excess of 600,000 pounds. A late 12th-century iron key to the Kaaba in Mecca carries an estimate of 400,000 pounds to 500,000 pounds, said Sotheby's.

The star lot in a two-part 680-lot auction of Indian and Islamic art at Bonhams on April 10 is a dagger once owned by Shah Jahan, a 17th-century Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal. It is estimated to fetch up to 500,000 pounds. In total, the auction may raise 3 million pounds, said Bonhams.

Gulf Interest

"People in the Gulf States want to get into the Islamic market," said Claire Penhallurick, head of the Islamic and Indian Department at Bonhams. "They know they're cheap compared to contemporary art. There are lots of commercial galleries opening in cities like Dubai."

She also said that Gulf-based hedge funds had bought at her sales.

Christie's smaller 301-lot sale tomorrow is expected to make more than 4 million pounds, the auction house said in an e-mailed statement.

Among the highlights is a 10th century marble capital from the royal palace of Medina al-Zahra, Cordoba, Spain, estimated at 50,000 pounds to 70,000 pounds, Christie's said.

"The market is now very different from the early 2000s," said William Robinson, Christie's international director of Islamic art and carpets. "There were far fewer buyers then. Since 9/11 there's been a political will in the West to present Islamic culture in a good light."

Sheikh's Purchases

Robinson said that in April 2004 the equivalent series of auctions in London fetched more than 22 million pounds, with about 15 million of that from Qatar's Sheikh Saud Mohammed al-Thani. The market shrank when he came under investigation in Qatar in connection with his purchases for museums, dealers and auctioneers said.

Qatar's new I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art, which will display many of Sheikh Saud's original acquisitions, is due to open officially in November, according to the Art Newspaper.

William Robinson and other auction-house specialists said the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Aga Khan Museum; the David Collection, Copenhagen; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre (which plans an annex in Abu Dhabi) were among the Western museums actively developing their Islamic displays.

By Scott Reyburn

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