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Sikh Akalis on the March, Lahore, c. 1885


The Akalis were a martial force within the Sikh tradition identified by their tall, dastar bunga turbans into which steel weapons and other embellishments were set. They wore tattered rags and short trousers, and sported long hair and beards—a fierce and wild appearance that matched their savage reputation. The Akalis were native to the region of Punjab, and this painting was likely made for a European patron keen to document the ethnic groups of the area, which was annexed by the British in 1849.

Date: ca. 1885
Geography: present-day Pakistan, probably Lahore
Culture: Colonial British
Medium: Pencil, ink, watercolor, gold and silver on paper
Dimensions: Painting: H. 8 3/8 in. (21.2 cm) W. 10 7/16 in. (26.5 cm) Mat (Standard Frame A): H. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm) W. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
Classification: Codices
Accession Number: 2004.298
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


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