Updated 6:05 am, Aug 17, 2018

‘Earrings give us a peep into Sikh queen Maharani Jind Kaur’s gilded world’ || SNE

By  The Indian Express .
Apr 30, 2018

jk-queen (1)

On Wednesday, as a pair of gold earrings from the collection of last Sikh queen Maharani Jind Kaur went under hammer at Bonhams Auction House in London, it was a Sikh NRI having his roots in Ludhiana, who was successful in getting the rare piece of jewel.

 

Davinder Singh Toor (37), an eye specialist based in London and having his roots in Jagraon of Ludhiana, was the one who bought the earrings of Maharani Jind Kaur, youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and mother of last Sikh ruler Maharaja Duleep Singh, for 1,82,000 pounds (Rs 1.69 crore approximately including tax).

 

Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Toor said, “For me, these earrings are not just a part of great Sikh heritage but world heritage. I want to preserve them for the coming generations to see, admire and learn from them.”

 

On Wednesday, Toor faced some tough competition from other bidders including some gurdwara committees in England who were also bidding. “I never had any limit in mind. I just wanted to get them and place them with two other pieces of jewelry I already have,” he says.

“At the time that Maharani Jind Kaur (also named Jindan Kaur) died in London in 1863, she was referred to (in the official probate letters) as Maharanee Jeudan Kower. Interestingly, that is the same spelling on the case of the earrings too. In these earrings, we have got a momentary glimpse into her gilded world. It is a matter of pride that her memorabilia is back with us,” says Amandeep Singh Madra, London-based Sikh historian.

For Toor, it was more of an addition to his collection as he already has another pair of earrings and a necklace of Maharani Jind Kaur which he bought almost a decade back. “But of course, these are the rarest as they were with a French family since 1930s. There may be more pieces of jewels of the queen owned privately but they are yet to be discovered,” he added.

 

Toor’s father, late Gurdev Singh, had shifted from Jagraon of Ludhiana to England in 1962. Born and brought up in London, Toor has kept his roots in Ludhiana alive. “I visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar and some family friends in Ludhiana in 2015,” he said.

 

From July 12 to September 23 this year, Toor’s rare collection including these earrings will be on display at Brunei Gallery (SOAS), Russell Square in London. The exhibition ‘Empire of Sikhs’ will also mark release of his book — ‘In Pursuit of Empire — Treasures from the Toor Collection of Sikh Art’.

 

Other items from Maharaja Ranjit’s Singh family which he has include a cannon of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which was used in Anglo-Sikh war, a receipt that marked transfer of Kohinoor diamond from Sikhs to British, a sword of Jowahir Singh (brother of Maharani Jind Kaur), clothing items of Maharaja Duleep Singh and some portraits of Maharaja Ranjit Singh that were owned by Duleep Singh. “All will be on display in London,” he revealed.

 

Asked about his views on the disputed Kohinoor diamond, which is believed to be taken by British from Maharaja Duleep Singh ‘deceivingly’, Toor said, “I think that Kohinoor’s transfer from Sikhs to British was the result of unfortunate defeat suffered by Sikhs at hands of British. However, now focus should be on keeping the diamond safe and secure for future generations.”

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