Last Sikh Queen's earrings fetch £175,000, 6 times auction estimate
(Sourced from PTI)
A pair of gold pendant earrings from the collection of last Sikh Queen of Punjab Maharani Jind Kaur fetched £175,000 (Rs. 1.6cr approximately), nearly six times the guide price, at an auction. The earrings, the highlight of the Islamic and Indian sale at Bonhams yesterday, were estimated to attract bids between £20,000-30,000. The earrings belonged to the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Jind Kaur was the only wife of the Sikh ruler not to commit Sati on his funeral pyre following his death in 1839. She went on to be appointed as the de facto ruler of Punjab before being captured by British. It was only many years later when she arrived in England that her jewelry, including the earrings, was handed back to her.
"The impressive price paid for these beautiful pieces of jewelry conveys their significance. These earrings are a powerful reminder of a courageous woman who endured the loss of her kingdom with great dignity and fortitude," said Oliver White, Head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams. When Kaur's five-year-old son Duleep Singh was proclaimed Maharaja of Punjab in 1843, she was appointed Regent.
The Punjab empire at the time stretched from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas and the court was fabled for its artistic and scientific achievements and opulence and riches.
The East India Company invaded and annexed Punjab, despite armed opposition organized and led by Kaur. She was deposed in 1846, separated from her son and imprisoned. According to Bonhams' historians, the Maharani's personal wealth was confiscated and the state Treasury plundered by the British Army. The famous Koh-i-Noor diamond and the Timur Ruby were sent back to London as gifts for Queen Victoria.
Kaur and her son were reunited after 13-and-a-half-years in 1861 when she moved to England to be with her son. She died in 1863. Besides her earrings, some other Indian highlights of the Bonhams auction included a painting by Gujarati artist Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh.