Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rare sculpture of Maharaja Dalip Singh to be auctioned in Bonhams

Punjab Heritage and Education Foundation Chandigarh has appealled to the Sikhs world over to purchase the rare sculpture of Maharaja Dalip Singh to be auctioned in Bonhams (London) on 19th April 2007 and place it in Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum, Ram Bagh Amritsar which is the proper place for this rare sculpture। In a letter to Prime Minister Dr। Manmohan Singh, Chief Minister S। Parkash Singh Badal, Shromoni Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) President S. Avtar Singh Makkar, Delhi Gurdwara Parbandak Committee President S. Paramjit Singh Sarna, Foundation President Prof. Gurbax Singh Shergill and Vice-President Dr. Charanjit Singh Gumtala stated that The bust of the Indian Prince and Sikh hero, Maharaja Dalip Singh, fashioned by British sculptor John Gibson almost 150 years ago, will be sold at Bonhams on April 19th at 101 New Bond Street. The bust is estimated to sell for £25,000 to £35,000.

The sculpture was produced in Rome in 1859-60. The story of Dalip Singh (1838-1893) is a tragic one of loss and of political manoeuvring by the British Government and the British East India Company.

Maharaja Dalip Singh, the Maharaja of Lahore and King of the Sikh Empire, was born on the 6th September 1838, the son of the legendary Lion of the Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the so-called 'Messalina of the Punjab', Maharani Jind Kaur. In 30 years Ranjit Singh, the great warrior king of the Sikhs had carved out a kingdom stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas.

At the age of 11, Maharajah Dalip Singh, ruler of the Punjab, and owner of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was removed from his Kingdom by the British East India Company after the Anglo-Sikh Wars and exiled to Britain. Dalip's mother, the Maharani Jindan, had been dragged screaming from her eleven-year-old son and imprisoned in a fortress. In 1854 Dalip was brought to England to begin his extraordinary journey through fashionable society. Five years later it had led him to Rome to sit for the esteemed Royal Academician John Gibson. In spring 1859 the sculptor began work on the Dalip bust making sketches and maquette studies. The subject wears a voluminous pearl necklace and embroidered kaftan tunic in the Kashmiri taste. His uncut hair, in the religious prescription of his Sikh patrimony, is wound in a turban. He is also bearded.

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