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Sri Guru Govind Singh Jees armour up for auction
Posted by: SENGH (IP Logged)
Date: March 31, 2008 10:23AM

A leading auction house Sotheby's is set to put under hammer rare piece of body armour that experts believe belonged to the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

The inscribed steel armour plate will be auctioned in Sotheby's Arts of the Islamic World Sale, the most important of its kind the company has ever staged, on April 9.

The steel plate would originally have been part of a set of body armour known as 'char-aina' (four mirrors) comprising back, front and two side plates. The Sotheby's armour plate bears a close similarity to Guru Gobind Singh's known personal armour preserved in a royal collection of erstwhile princely state of Patiala. The existence of a second set leads experts to believe that the Guru's armourers were commissioned to produce another. This sale comes at a time when Sikh heritage objects have realised impressive prices with collectors and dealers clashing in frenzied bidding wars in London's auction houses. The most remarkable example was witnessed at Bonham's in April 2007, when a marble bust of Maharaja Duleep Singh sculpted by John Gibson in 1859, fetched an astonishing sum of 1.7 million pound as against Bonham's expectation of mere 30,000 pound. The auction to be held on April 9, which comprises 400 lots of rare and important works of art, is expected to realise in excess of 9 million pound. It will be the first time that the Sotheby's would put on offer a relic belonging to a Sikh Guru and as such, it is bound to attract keen interest from collectors and connoisseurs of Sikh heritage across the globe.

The Sotheby's example is virtually identical to another armour plate from a complete 'char-aina' set currently housed in the collection of the royal family of Patiala in Punjab. Each plate in the Patiala set is adorned with verses rendered in gold Gurmukhi script from the Sikh scriptures, including the opening verses of Guru Nanak's ''Japji Sahib'', and Guru Gobind Singh's ''Jaap Sahib'' and ''Akal Ustat''. According to a well-established family tradition, the set was gifted to one of their ancestors by Guru Gobind Singh. The close relationship between the Guru and the Patiala family is attested to in the saying ''Tera ghar mera asay'' (Your house is my refuge). This phrase appears in the Guru's hukamnama (royal decree) dated August 2, 1696 and addressed to the sons of Phul, the founder of the Patiala dynasty.

The Sotheby's armour plate also 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 known in the West as Damascus Steel, used by Indian and Persian blacksmiths to create the finest and most valuable blades and armour before the advent of modern manufacturing techniques.


We are uncertain of how they got hold of it; the story isn't big in the news yet, but will be soon!

Sotheby's auction house has got hold of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's armour, a chest plate with Sanscript scripture carved in gold onto it, and they want to sell it.

Their argument is it may just be a replica and not the original. It does not matter, the point is it is part of Sikh heritage, it is not for sale, this is seriously a disgrace!

Can someone who knows how to start a petition do it please. If they do insist on trying to auction it 100% we are going there to protest, and to take it BACK!

The item isn't to be sold to someone, it belongs to Sikhs!

It should be integrated into our hisotry; somewhere where where all can see and appreciate it, it belongs to our people!

This is not random pro-Sikh the usual "too good too hard" nonsense and we aren't trying to stir up controversy or just have a riot for a laugh, we seriously can't let them do this.


Re: Sri Guru Govind Singh Jees armour up for auction
Posted by: * (IP Logged)
Date: April 06, 2008 01:05PM

Do you have pictures of the armour


Re: Sri Guru Govind Singh Jees armour up for auction
Posted by: Bundha (IP Logged)
Date: April 07, 2008 05:07AM

BBC News
The Sotheby's auction house has withdrawn from auction a set of body armour that Sikhs say once belonged to Guru Gobind Singh.

Guru Gobind Singh was the tenth and last religious head of the Sikhs.

Sikhs in India have staged protests at the proposed auction, saying the armour should be housed in a museum at Amritsar's Golden Temple.

Sotheby's said the armour had been withdrawn at the request of the seller. It gave no reason for the decision.

Nor would it give the identity of the owner of the armour.

'Suitable member'

A statement released by Sotheby's said the seller had asked the auction house to arrange for the "acquisition" of the armour "by a suitable member of the Sikh community".

The Sotheby's catalogue described the item as an 18th century "rare Sikh steel armour plate" from what is now the north-west India and Pakistan region, with an estimated value of £10-12,000 ($20-24,000).

Sotheby's had come under pressure to withdraw the armour following the Sikh protests in India.

But last week it said it had no evidence to support the claims that the body armour once belonged to Guru Gobind Singh.

"Sotheby's has researched the provenance of this piece... In the course of this research, Sotheby's has not found or been given any evidence to indicate ownership of this piece by Guru Gobind Singh," a statement said.

"We therefore do not deem the piece to be a relic of the Guru."

The body armour was due to have been auctioned on Wednesday.

The protests in India were mainly in the eastern Indian city of Patna - the birthplace of the Guru - and in Amritsar.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was urged to try to stop the auction and help get the armour.

Guru Gobind Singh was a military commander, as well as a poet and spiritual leader.

He fought many battles with the Mughal emperors and their allies.


Re: Sri Guru Govind Singh Jees armour up for auction
Posted by: Atma Singh (IP Logged)
Date: April 07, 2008 09:37AM


sadh-sangat jeeo,

"Sotheby's auction house has got hold of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's armour, a chest plate with Sanscript scripture carved in gold onto it, and they want to sell it".

> veer/bhain jee, it's definitely not sanskrit. it is gurmukhee and is the opening verse of akaal ustat. i have emailed large'ish pic to admin so they can place into this thread.

i've looked at the picture in detail and although it is difficult to make things out and there is lots of damage which makes it difficult to read everything, i think each line appears as follows but obviously i could be mistaken:

ੴ ਉਤਾਰਖਾਸੇਦਸਖਤਕਾਉਸਤਤ
- this is not the same order as most versions of akaal ustat are presented today i.e. ਉਤਾਰਖਾਸੇਦਸਖਤਕਾ॥ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੀ੧੦॥. on the armour, the word ਉਸਤਤ appears in the same panktee as that which mentions the scribe who wrote what maharaaj jee told him to write.

the manglacharan appears to be ੴ alone, as opposed to ੴਸਤਿਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ॥ in modern day versions.

- it is difficult to make out the second word which i have guessed is probably ਉਸਤਤ due to damage. it is also hard to make out the ॥ if they are in fact there, again due to inherent limitations i.e. damage to armour and size/resolution of image.

- i can't see ॥ between the pankteeaa(n) here but that's not to say they are not there because they probably would be.

it looks like the second word is written as ਰਛਿਆ instead of ਰਛਾ - the latter is how it appears usually in at least modern day versions. however, this may again be due to the limitations we are faced with here so pls don't take what i have said for fact. i say this because there appears to be a siharee and an ਅ before the kanna.

what usually appears as the second from last word in this panktee (ਰਛਿਆ) looks as though it is absent and in it's place is written ਰਖਿਆ. the ਖ is very clearly visible and is definitely not a ਛ. i have never seen this in modern day versions.

- this part of the shabad seems to be written as it is usually appears in modern day versions.

- this panktee also seems to be written as it is usually appears in modern day versions however, it is hard to verify certain words from the image due to limitations e.g. ਦੀਸਦਾਰਛਿਆ is very damaged although the word we can see which is probably ਰਛਿਆ is very probably this word as opposed to the earlier instance of ਰਖਿਆ. this is because whatever the middle akhar, the middle akhar is closed at the top and this would not have been closed had it been a ਖ - this rules out it being ਰਖਿਆ.

ਆਗੈਲਿਖਾਰੀਕੇਦਸ..... (note: looking at the image cannot confirm what follows in the rest of this panktee imho)
- this panktee is by far the most difficult to make out. the word ਆਗੈ, which is most likely the first word, is almost impossible to view but judging by the 'danda' following whatever the end of this word actually is, we can tell that it most probably ends with a ਗ.

from ਦਸ onwards, it is extremely difficult to make any assumptions as to what is written. however what is strange is that after the akhar ਸ, ordinarily ਤਖਤ would follow accoding to modern day versions i.e ਦਸਤਖਤ, which has been translated as referring to the fact that siree dasmesh pita jee's sunder signature is to follow. what we have here is clearly a ਖ and not a ਤ. maybe a ਤ appears before the ਖ however it is not visible. anyhow, there is such little space between the ਸ and ਖ as to make this very unlikely imho. we then see the akhar ਤ. as a result, to my eyes at least, it seems as though instead of ਦਸਤਖਤ, what is in fact written is ਦਸਖਤ...which is how maharaaj jee is referred to at the very beginning of this shabad.

as to what is written after this point, we can only guess and the image doesn't help.

generally speaking, and in conclusion:

- imho, there are words and hence pankteeaa(n) which clearly appear as different on this armour as compared to at least modern day versions of akaal ustat.

- it is hard to confirm from the image if there are one or two laavaa(n) above words.

- in many places it is impossible to make out words due to limitations.

- the koftgari method used, from the very basic info i have just got via google, could mean that some of the inlaid gold i.e. the akhars and other decorative parts, which are aparently gold wire, may have literally fallen out or been taken out.

ps - pls note that i have never studied, nor do i have the knowledge required to study, puraataan beeRaa(n) of dasam granth sahib. i do not have access to examples of how akaal ustat appears in puraatan beeRaa(n),potheeaa(n) etc. so have not been able to factor this in.

pps - it would be lovely to actually view this armour first-hand. if any sangat are planning on trying to locate and view this piece in the future, pls email me as i would love to come along.


ਆਤਮਾ ਸਿੰਘ


Re: Sri Guru Govind Singh Jees armour up for auction
Posted by: Atma Singh (IP Logged)
Date: April 09, 2008 08:59AM


sadh sangat jeeo,

it just occurred to me that if the patiala family have a set of armour which is apparently very similar/identical to this one (except they apparently have the whole set,not only the front plate, but also the back and two sides), then it should be checked to see what is written at the very end i.e. after ਆਗੈਲਿਖਾਰੀਕੇਦਸ.....

also, does that set also show-up issues regarding the words ਰਛਿਆ, ਰਖਿਆ and ਦਸਖਤ that i have mentioned above...

can the sangat point me towards any images which show the beginning of akaal ustat in puraatan beeRaa(n) of dasam granth sahib.



ਆਤਮਾ ਸਿੰਘ


Re: Sri Guru Govind Singh Jees armour up for auction
Posted by: Harinder Singh (IP Logged)
Date: April 09, 2008 10:06PM

just to add some thoughts.
I feel there is NO bani by the name Akal Ustatt in 'Dasam Granth'.
this name must have been given by some sikh.
ik ounkaar satgurprasad is MANGLACHARAN.
akal purakh ke racha..... sarbloh je de sada rachiyaa hammne is MANTARR.
Sentence 1: In the beginning there is manglacharan(to start the composition which is pothi or granth)
Sentence 2: utaar khase daskhat ka
Sentence 3: patshahi dasviin
Sentence 4-7: mantarr
sentence 8: agai likhari ke dast-khat (sentence 2 has word das-khat and not dast-khat)

writing mantarr on a shastar in fine but to write sentence1,sentence2,sentence3 and mantarr and sentence 8, dont make much sense to me.


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