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Wellcome Collection


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GurFateh !

Here is a wonderful and interesting collection of images from the Wellcome Collection.

The scope of the Wellcome Collection is vast and wide ranging covering almost everything.

The images I am posting cover Sikh, Punjabi and Indic themes - they are watercolours, gouache paintings and hand tinted Lithographs and woodcuts from the Late 19th Century.

The hand painted woodcuts and lithographs are particularly interesting as they were mass produced and sold as souvenirs in places like Amritsar for your average person to buy - perhaps the first time inexpensive art was available to the masses - a forerunner of the inexpensive calenders and prints that pilgrims and tourists buy today - I think every Sikh household must have one of those pictures of Darbar Sahib which is a central framed picture with a hinged frame on each side with a painting of Guru Nanak on one side and Guru Gobind Singh on the other !

Here are the pictures

Images of the Guru Sahiban

Guru Nanak



Guru Gobind Singh





Darbar Sahib - hand painted lithographs - Note the Nishan Sahibs - they show a number of different symbols



Maharaja Ranjit Singh




Akali Phoola Singh


Sikh People






Battle scenes

Sikhs fight against the British



Sikhs in the British Army


These following images have a Punjabi Theme

A funeral procession - note the flags and band - this would suggest the funeral of an Elder - who had lived a long life and left behind many great-grand children - in Punjabi called 'Sohne di Pauri charna' - 'having ascended the Golden Ladder' - A time to celebrate and not mourn, as they had been blessed with such a long fruitful life.


I believe this is a scene from the Legend of 'Sohni Mahival' - you can see Sohni crossing the river using a clay pot


A court scene - with an English Judge


Pehlwaan - wrestlers

A Pehlwaan wrestler with a 'Shamla' hanging from his turban and a 'Kentha' around his neck


The Akhara


Vices and Addictions

The Stereotype of the Punjabi is that he is of 'Moti Akal' and fond of a drink - in other words a 'bit thick ,slow witted and an alcoholic' - these next images are interesting as they highlight some of these traits - I don't know if they are intended to be humorous but I think they are ! ( apologies if any offence taken - but you can see that 'Nasha' and 'Amlies' and the related behaviour are not a new phenomenon!)

Sharaabies - the perils of too much drink and the related 'misbehaviour' ( an insight into the roots and an indictment of the casual violence and spousal abuse that plagues Punjabi Society)


Addicts and addiction - Amalies and Posties


a 'Mujrah' - dancing performance


Indic Themes

a lithograph depicting a triumphant Durga riding a tiger escorted by Hanuman holding a flag -- I have included this image as it gives the name of the printer of the lithograph, in Amritsar. Also the flag is very interesting - it is very similar to the one in the lithograph of Darbar Sahib, posted above earlier.


These last two images are extremely interesting - while it is not clear who all the individuals are - I think these may be 'propagandist' or at least trying to - to use the vernacular - 'Big Up' certain individuals and agendas

The first shows Sir Donald Friell McLeod, Governor of the Punjab, surrounded by admiring Sikh elders - note how he is seated on a throne with a Chaur and angels or devte with garlands,circling his 'haloed' head - an attempt to use Indic themes to show his postion - real or imagined.


This image could be seen as even more controversial - here you can see the Ten Guru Sahiban depicted - as well as Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his family.

You also see Langar being made and served - You can also see 'Ragra' being performed.

However the painter has also shown Sir Donald - seated on a throne. Directly under the Guru Sahiban you see what appears to be Sodhi Bhan Singh and family - decendents of Prithi Chand (Brother of Guru Arjan) known as 'The Minas'. ( Though I could be wrong)

The whole picture seems to be an attempt to show the real or imagined influence of these individuals. This is what makes the picture very interesting - you can see similar attempts to show the influence or prestige of individuals in illuminated manuscripts of The Guru Granth Sahib - namely the Sodhi Bhan Singh manuscript in the N. Delhi Museum.

It shows the power of imagery - and the way it can be used to bolster postion and elevate an indivdual's 'prestige' or attempt to provide legitimacy to a 'postion' or 'lineage'.

Extremely interesting - please post your views !


I think I'll stop there - enjoy the pictures - and please post your views - they are greatly appreciated !

Ranjit Singh 'Freed'

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I wonder if Sir Donald Friell McLeod commisioned the last 2 paintings...

The last one is really interesting, it seems as though the "brains" behind the painting is trying to portray 400 years of Sikh history in one painting, interesting that McLeod is an boat, perhaps symbolising that he is a guest/farangi....

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Gurfateh !

I have received a higher resolution image of the last image I posted in this thread

In this image you can read the writing - however this doesn't make things much clearer - I have put on my 'Sherlock Holmes' cape and come up with some conclusions - all pure conjecture. So feel free to make and add your own conclusions.

The higher resolution image - (the image is around 3MB - if you would like the big image, PM me your email address and I will send it to you)


In these details you can see the Ten Guru Sahiban - with the sons of Guru Nanak, Baba Sri Chand is on the right



On the left of Guru Gobind Singh you can see "Bhai Bolaka Sing , Chela G. Govind Sing" - I believe this could be a depiction of Baba Balakh Singh - the mentor of Baba Ram Singh Namdhari


What adds weight to this being Balakh Singh is the group of Disciples shown below - they include "B. Kahan Sing" - Kahn Singh was the nephew of Balakh Singh and occupied the 'Gaddi' of Balakh Singh at Hazro - these disciples could be some of the 22 'Subas' or deputies that looked after Kuka missionary work as set up by Baba Ram Singh.


Under the Guru Sahiban on the right is a group of elders described as " This whole class belong to the house Sodee ??" - like I said before I believe this to be the Sodhi Family - not sure if they are the Kartarpur or 'Mina' line. The word Sodee could be Sodoo it's not very clear.


In this detail you can see the English Lieutenant Governor arriving on a canopied boat and below him Maharaja Ranjit Singh.


In this detail you can see Langar being made - " cooking house for the poor" and the "Daig of sardai and water" - 'Ragra' performed and 'Shardai' being made.


In this detail langar is served


We can see Lepers and Blind men in the sangat


This is a very interesting painting from an interesting period in History - It appears to show the forerunners of the Namdhari Movement - though it appears to not show Baba Ram Singh - though it is said Ram Singh met Balakh Singh in around 1860 - so maybe this painting is from before then - again pure conjecture.

The painting shows Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the British - it also appears to show the 'Sodhis'.

It could be argued the painting shows all those with influence in Punjab at the time - those in 'power' and with considerable influence.

A point to note is that Guru Nanak Sahib and Ranjit Singh are the only figures with a Nimbus / Halo - and the Lt Governor has a canopy over his head.

The painting is titled "Kings and devotee Sikhs paying homage to Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh

religion." - regardless of who the individuals are they are all paying homage to the Guru Sahiban - even if the painting maybe an attempt to overplay any influence or bolster an individual's standing - or an attempt to give credence to a particular 'lineage' or 'prophecy'.

Please fell free to add your comments - they are greatly appreciated

Ranjit Singh 'Freed'

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Gurfateh !

Been doing some more detective work / reading and found this ;


*From History of the Sikhs, Vol 5 ,The Sikh Lion of Lahore - Hari Ram Gupta - Munshiram Manoharlal - 1991. pp 418

This might explain who 'Bastee Ram' or Wasti Ram is , - mentioned a number of times in the hand written notes - as well as Gobind Ram and Ram Singh - all of whom are pictured under the Guru Sahiban along with their sons. The bestowing of jagirs and money explains the hand written note - "Offspring and horses of Bastee Ram" - he was a 'Bhai' of some standing and wealth - that also explains why Ranjit Singh is pictured.

I think the Namdhari theory may have been a little hasty ! - but then again I did say they were 'forerunners' - so there maybe something there ??

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