From 24th August, visitors to the Herbert have a special opportunity to see an amazing artifact, which is on loan from the British Museum, in the new exhibition, Sikh Fortress Turban: A British Museum Tour.
The fortress turban, which will be on display at the Herbert
until 17 November, is known as a Dastaar Boonga, and is a type distinct to the original Sikh warriors, the Akali Nihangs.
The turban's tall, conical structure is like a tower or fortress which would protect both the hair and the head in battle. The turban is tied by entwining long hair with the cloth, which can be up to 20 yards long. Symbolic ornaments and small weapons, such as steel quoits, daggers, swords and tiger claws, were secured to it for easy access during battle, and to provide further protection.
The ornaments on this particular Sikh Fortress Turban include a modified Rattray Battalion badge, which suggests that it may have associations with the British Army battalion raised by Captain Thomas Rattray in Lahore in 1856.
The British rulers of India admired the fighting skills of Sikh warriors and, from 1850, recruited them into the British Army. Turbans such as these were collected by the army's generals as examples of Indian art and culture, and replicas would have been specially made for this market.
Exhibitions Officer Jessica Pinson said, "We are privileged to display such a rare and cultural artefact from the British Museum to the Sikh community and wider audiences in Coventry. The exhibition gives the public the chance to learn about the history of the Sikh faith,and celebrate the city's social diversity."
The Sikh Fortress Turban has been in the British Museum collection since the early twentieth century, and is on loan to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry from Saturday 24 August until Sunday 17 November 2013.
John Orna-Ornstein, Head of National Programmes at the British Museum said The display of the fortress turban at the British Museum generated enormous interest from visitors, and we are delighted that the turban will now tour a number of venues in the UK. The loan to the museums is one element in the strong and long-lasting partnership including exhibiting and shared expertise that we at the British Museum value enormously."
There is also a programme of special events and talks related to this exhibition.