Mementoes of power and conquest: Sikh jewellery in the collection of National Museums Scotland - NMS Research Repository
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Book chapter

Mementoes of power and conquest: Sikh jewellery in the collection of National Museums Scotland

September 2020

Abstract

This chapter traces the historical trajectory of pieces of jewellery and personal effects in the collection of National Museums Scotland which once belonged to the last Sikh ruler of Panjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh (1838–93). Deposed from the throne after the Second Anglo–Sikh War, exiled and deprived of his possessions, religion and identity, Duleep Singh has been considered a pawn of Empire. Rather than interpreting the jewellery as signs of royal splendour, the chapter foregrounds the historical significance of these jewels. Using archival sources, the chapter traces their different ownerships back to the dispersal of the Lahore treasury, or Toshakhana, following the defeat of the Sikh army by the British in the Second Anglo-Sikh War 1848–49 and emphasises the multitude of perspectives of the different agents involved in the British Empire in India on these objects.

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