Stories of the Sikh Fortress Turban at the Museum of Lancashire

8 December 2014

A rare type of turban worn by historic Sikh warriors is the centrepiece of a new exhibition now showing at the Museum of Lancashire (MoL).

The turban, known as the Dastaar Boonga or fortress turban, has a tall conical structure resembling a tower or a fortress. It was worn by a group of Sikh warriors called Akali Nihangs.

Famed for their bravery, fighting prowess and victories even when heavily outnumbered, the Akali Nihangs are revered for the role they played in Sikh history, especially military history.

The warriors wore the fortress turban in battle to protect their heads and to hold an array of fearsome weapons such as daggers, swords and deadly throwing discs.

Some Akali Nihangs still wear this type of turban today for ceremonial purposes and as a symbol of their proud tradition.

Charlotte Steels, senior museum manager at Lancashire County Council, said: "The Sikh Fortress Turban is a fabulous touring exhibition from the British Museum.

"While the original turban in the British Museum's collection is now too fragile to travel, the turban on display at the MoL is a stunning replica.

"British Museum staff worked alongside the Sikh community to explore traditional tying techniques to recreate this impressive turban from 37 metres of fabric.

"The weapons displayed in the turban are the 19th century originals. They include two double-edged swords, six throwing discs, a dagger, and a badge of the 45th Rattray’s Sikh Battalion, which eventually became the 3rd Battalion Sikh Regiment of the present-day Indian Army."

Alongside the British Museum exhibition, UK-based visual artist Kate Eggleston-Wirtz has run a series of creative workshops with the local Sikh community to explore the themes of identity and home.

Together, they have created educational artwork that will be used in schools to explore the Sikh faith.

The artwork is based around the concept of the Sikh Gurdwara, where people of all faiths are welcome.

A film has also been created with the community to explore the significance of the turban to the Sikh faith and identity.

At 1pm on Thursday 15 January, Harvinder Bahra and Monique Pullan from the British Museum will be speaking about the history of the fortress turban, its conservation and how it was rewrapped with the help of the local Sikh community.

The exhibition run until Sunday 15 February 2015.

For opening times and more information about the exhibition and associated events, phone 01772 534 075 or email [email protected].


Notes for Editors: Photos show: the Sikh fortress turban

For further information please contact: Greg Bowen on 01772 536757

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