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Introductory Panel Imagine living in a world where, whenever they wanted, every man and woman could wear a crown. What would your crown be like? There is a real community that wears a crown or ‘Dastaar’ in not just our society but every climate and country in the world – the Sikhs. For thirty million Sikhs, fashion has followed faith down through the centuries and now many styles of turbans can be seen. The Turbanology exhibition artfully catalogues the different types of Dastaar that Sikhs wear. We also explore why the right to wear a turban is
central to the Sikh faith. Today there are many growing misunderstandings and misrepresentations of this aspect of Sikh identity. Turbanology dispels the myths and unravels the real culture and heritage making up the Sikh Dastaar. We want you to be a part of the show – send in your pictures, have your say and suggest more turban styles and stories for us to feature via www.turbanology.info The Turbanology Team Director – Jay Singh-Sohal Curator – Scholars and Warriors Designer – Mandeep Malhi Graphics – Amit Patel
Photography – Jaskirt Dhaliwal Online – Forward Slash Designs Publicist – Sukhmani Vig Archive Pictures Courtesy of: GNNSJ, Birmingham National Army Museum Peter Bance, Coronet House Sandhurst Collection UK MoD/Crown Copyright 2011 © Dot Hyphen Productions 2011 The “Turbanology” name brand and concept are solely the intellectual property of Jagjeet Singh Sohal.
Banners 1. The Head and the Heart The long piece of cloth that makes up a Sikh’s turban has a sacred purpose, since to preserve and keep hair clean and uncut is a religious duty. But “turban” is only the English name for any kind of Eastern headdress. It’s a word that’s interwoven with three hundred years of European myths and stories: it’s not the word that Sikhs use themselves. For a Sikh, a turban is never a hat but always a crown or “Dastaar”. A European crown is traditionally made of valuable metal and precious stones, to be carefully preserved, inherited; coveted. A linen dastaar is simple, clean and practical. It requires pride and a sense of purpose to tie and must be
freshly folded each day. This is why a Sikh’s turban always represents spiritual wisdom as much as worldly power. Following Sikh principles of equality, women may also wear the dastaar. Every Sikh will tie one individually, with many practical variations for worship, work and sport. With the dastaar around the head, a Sikh cannot hide his faith or his identity as a Saint-Soldier. The turban is a visible and constant reminder to be truthful, honourable, courageous and help those in need. 2. Twists and Turns Turbans are worn in many world cultures as practical or symbolic headdresses. But for the Sikhs, the turban is an article of faith central to their spiritual ethos and code of
conduct. Their reasons are rooted in the 300 year history of the founders of Sikhism – the Gurus. The first Guru – Nanak Dev – traveled across India and the Middle East in the 15th century, debating with many Hindu sadhus and Muslim fakirs. For these diverse communities, the turban was a shared symbol of saintly wisdom connecting man to God. The Gurus saw the turban as much more, the sixth Guru, Hargobind, adapted the turban to the martial tradition of the Warrior-Saints by making it larger, stronger and suited for the battlefield. In 1699, the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, created the Khalsa – an order of initiated Sikh men and women – at Anandpur in the Punjab. The turban was
from then on to be worn as a constant reminder of the sovereign and independent nature of the Sikhs, and that each Sikh is a distinct and constant representative of the Guru. Every Sikh will aspire to wear a turban whether devout or practicing. 3. Divine Law, Human Law When tales of wartime bravery were told, the Sikhs became known all over the world as warriors. But as manual labourers? As shopkeepers? As bus conductors? Sikh settlers in Britain were rarely shown the respect they had enjoyed as students or soldiers. Discrimination against the Sikh religious identity became a feature of 1960’s Britain. State-run public transport depots banned conductors, guards and drivers
from wearing beards and turbans. These bans were fought and overturned by the trade unions, workers’ associations and by fair-minded individuals who remembered the Sikh’s wartime sacrifices. 1969 was the year Wolverhampton and Nottingham scrapped their turban bans, and Daya Singh Nibber became Birmingham’s first turbaned railway guard. Seven years later, turban-wearing Sikhs were gained exception from compulsion to wear safety helmets on motorbikes and building sites. But without full legal protection, wearing a turban could still count against any Sikh applying for a job or school. In 1983 Sewa Singh Mandla fought a ban on turbans at his son’s Birmingham school. The Sikh community organised protest marches and petitioned politicians across the
country. After losing their case at Birmingham’s law courts, the House of Lords ruled on appeal that wearing a turban was each Sikh’s right.
4. Last Maharaja, First Ambassador The British learned the true significance of the Sikh turban through the example of one man; Duleep Singh. Arriving in Britain as a boy in 1854, he became a favourite of Queen Victoria and lived the comfortable life of a stylish celebrity aristocrat. But he was also a prisoner. Following two Anglo-Sikh Wars, Britain finally controlled the Indian subcontinent and Duleep Singh was the last Maharaja of the annexed Sikh Empire. With its gift of the priceless Koh-i-Noor diamond, the Punjab provided the literal
jewel in the crown of the British Empire. Duleep – youngest son of the ‘Lion of the Punjab’ – became a hostage against future instability. The exiled prince was allowed his royal status and would wear his elegant, jewel-encrusted turban to state and royal occasions. Duleep and his Sikh retainers were depicted and discussed favourably in the Victorian media.
Later Duleep rebelled against his comfortable captivity. Inspired by tales of India from visiting Sikh relations – especially his mother, Maharani Jinda, he attempted to regain his lost heritage. But Duleep had few, if any, of the qualities of his famous father. The British outmanoeuvred him at every turn, and he died penniless and unhappy in France.
5. Fierce Warriors, Staunch Allies After the Anglo-Sikh Wars, the British were so impressed by their opponents fighting valour they found a role for them in the Raj. Dispatched to the Empire’s unruly North West Frontier, the Sikhs fought bravely throughout what we now call Afghanistan, remained loyal during the India Mutiny in 1857 and fought to the last man at Saragarhi in 1897. Lauded in the Victorian press, the heroic exploits of Sikhs became the talk of drawing rooms and playing fields across the world. But the real test of Sikh valour came during the Great War. Remaining true to their reputation as steadfast warriors, thousands of Sikhs volunteered to fight in Flanders, Gallipoli, Suez, Kilimanjaro and Baghdad. Sikhs wore turbans under fire; many later finding bullets in the
windings. During the Second World War, Sikhs fought in Burma, Italy and the Middle East, won medals and commendations and even served as bodyguards to Sir Winston Churchill. Across both conflicts around 83,005 Sikhs were killed and 109,045 wounded. A century of sacrifice gives Sikhs an enduring fame in British military history. Today, images of Sikh soldiers line the corridors of the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. Sikhs continue to serve Great Britain today in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the world.
Turbans Turbanology 001 – ‘The Kenyan’ How to recognise a ‘Kenyan’ Dastaar: A smart, ironed and crisply folded layered turban. Colours: Varied; clean white in the tropics, a sedate black in modern corporate environments. The East African Connection: The so-called ‘Kenyan’ Dastaar is a popular turban with second and third generation British Sikhs. It was first worn in the UK by Sikhs migrating from Kenya and Tanzania, many of whom had filled senior roles in East African society. Judges, politicians, businessmen; their neat, precise turban
style reflected their status as professionals. The origin of ‘The Kenyan’ is in the formal, folded and pressed style of turban developed as parade dress by Sikhs serving in the British Indian Army. These uniform turbans were smart but also large, making each soldier’s silhouette more imposing. ’The Kenyan’ style remains in vogue and has become a signature look for British Sikhs. Help us improve our definition of ‘The Kenyan’ and send in your favourite pictures for inclusion in our show at facebook.com/Turbanology.Sikhs.Unwr apped.Exhibition
Turbanology 002 – ‘The Double-Patti’
How to recognise a ‘Double-Patti’ Dastaar: A ‘double-patti’ can be difficult to positively identify as the wearer may adapt it into many different styles. It is usually larger than other turbans, with fewer folds and wraps. Colours are sometimes worn to complement shirts, ties, or even socks! One is Not Enough This style of turban is commonly seen in the Punjab, India. The ‘double-patti’ is named for the two long pieces of cloth which are sewn together into one wide band. The open cloth is wound around the head and formed into a smooth layer while tieing, giving the turban a thick and defined outline. This method enables the wearer to create different turban-styles according to their
preference; rounded out, taller or angled. Help us improve our definition of ‘The Double-Patti’ and send in your favourite pictures for inclusion in our show at facebook.com/Turbanology.Sikhs.Unwr apped.Exhibition
Turbanology 003: ‘The Damalla’ How to recognise a ‘Damalla’: These round turbans are traditionally seen in blue or orange; white and other colours can sometimes be spotted. A ‘Damalla’ is made from two layers; the outer layer sometimes holding weapons and symbols – and even symbolic weapons! Winding for a Warrior
‘The Damalla’ is the traditional Sikh warrior turban. It cocoons the entire head, offering protection on the battlefield. A ‘Damalla’ is actually two or more pieces of cloth. The first is wrapped around the hair and ties off the wearer’s hair into a top-knot. A piece of cloth as long as the wearer wishes is then chosen and wrapped around the head without ironing or folding. The ‘Damalla’ is the oldest form of turban, worn by the Sikh Gurus themselves. Over time it has come to represent the Sikh Khalsa and the discipline of these Warrior-Saints. The largest Damallas are often seen crowning the heads of Nihangs, fierce warriors, whose modified ‘Damallas’ are not just turbans but battle standards. Help us improve our definition of ‘The Damalla’ and send in your favourite
pictures for inclusion in our show at facebook.com/Turbanology.Sikhs.Unwr apped.Exhibition
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