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Sikh relics to be auctioned in Britain


New Delhi : Relics and documents from medieval India and the erstwhile Sikh kingdom, including the personal prayer book of former maharaja Duleep Singh, will be auctioned in Britain Nov 17, British auction house Mullocks said Wednesday.

The artefacts include an important 19th century oil on canvas of the Maharaja of Burdwan, British parliamentary papers on India, a 19th century marble statue of Hindu deity Durga and British school paintings of Indian monuments and people, a statement said.

The personal prayer book of Duleep Singh titled, “Sacred Hymns From the German”, translated by Frances Elizabeth Cox with an ownership inscription of the Maharaja, signed ‘Duleep Singh’ is expected to fetch 6,000-8,000 pounds.

The British annexed Punjab under controversial circumstances, forcing the surrender of the famed Koh-i-noor diamond along with other items of Duleep Singh’s treasury.

The prayer book is a poignant reminder of how intensely the East India Company had worked to brainwash the young Maharaja to give up his religion, roots and homeland, the statement said.

Important documents from the collection of Sir John Login, Duleep Singh’s English tutor and guardian, will also go under the hammer.

These provide a fascinating insight into the early life of the deposed Sikh king.

A “portrait in the European manner of Duleep Singh as a boy” is estimated at 1,500-2,000 pounds, the statement said.

Other priceless relics include an early company school painting of Maharajah Sher Singh (from the collection of Arthur Onslow) expected to fetch 1,500-2,000 pounds, a gold Mohur from the Sikh empire, an antique model of the famous Bhangi Misl Cannon, a book on the Sikh court by Alexis Soltykoff and a fine British painting of an Akali Nihung.

A statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a letter in French by Jean Francois Allard who was the general of the Sikh army and a number of 19th century photographs and illustrations – including a rare glass slide of Kartarpur Gurdwara, the earliest known view of the site commemorating where Guru Nanak breathed his last are also included.

“We are honoured to auction these highly significant pieces, a large number concerning the Sikhs which were brought back by the British after the annexation of Punjab in 1849,” Mullocks specialist Richard Westwood Brookes said.

“The British have the utmost respect for the Sikhs – one of the fierce races they had ever encountered – and these relics are a testimony to this,” he added.