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Portrait of the sixth Guru, Hargobind Singh
Place of Origin: India or Pakistan
Date: approx. 1730-1750
Materials: Opaque watercolors and gold on paper
Dimensions: H. 10 in x W. 7 1/4 in, H. 25.4 cm x W. 18.4 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Kapany Collection
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 1998.59
On Display: No
Culture: Sikh

Description

Label:

This image of the sixth guru clearly expresses the transformation that occurred in Sikh leadership by the mid-eighteenth century. In contrast to images of Guru Nanak, Guru Hargobind Singh (1595– 1644) is portrayed not as a holy man engrossed in scripture, but rather as a resolute leader in imperial guise. The early loss of his father, who died at the hands of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, catapulted the child into guruship at a young age and transformed the tone of Sikhism. Hargobind eventually established his own army.

The guru holds a staff suggesting his political authority in one hand, while in his left hand he holds a string of prayer beads, a literal expression of the two dimensions of his power. The doctrine of the interdependence of the temporal and spiritual (miri and piri), alluded to in this image, became central to Sikh philosophy and discourse.


More Information

Exhibition History: "The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", Victoria & Albert Museum

"The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", Royal Ontario Museum, 5/25/2000 - 8/20/2000

"I Know No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion", Rubin Museum of Art, 9/18/2006 - 1/29/2007

"Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017
Label:

This image of the sixth guru clearly expresses the transformation that occurred in Sikh leadership by the mid-eighteenth century. In contrast to images of Guru Nanak, Guru Hargobind Singh (1595– 1644) is portrayed not as a holy man engrossed in scripture, but rather as a resolute leader in imperial guise. The early loss of his father, who died at the hands of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, catapulted the child into guruship at a young age and transformed the tone of Sikhism. Hargobind eventually established his own army.

The guru holds a staff suggesting his political authority in one hand, while in his left hand he holds a string of prayer beads, a literal expression of the two dimensions of his power. The doctrine of the interdependence of the temporal and spiritual (miri and piri), alluded to in this image, became central to Sikh philosophy and discourse.


Exhibition History: "The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", Victoria & Albert Museum

"The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", Royal Ontario Museum, 5/25/2000 - 8/20/2000

"I Know No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion", Rubin Museum of Art, 9/18/2006 - 1/29/2007

"Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017