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Akalees
Portraits of The Princes and People of India
Date: 1844
Object Name: Chromolithograph
Materials: Hand-painted chromolithograph on paper
Dimensions: H. 22 in x W. 17 1/2 in, H. 55.9 cm x W. 44.4 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Kapany Collection
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Prints And Drawings
Object Number: 1998.63.5
On Display: No
Culture: Sikh

Description

Label:

The Akalis, whose name means “immortals” or “timeless ones,” were a class of Sikh warriors renowned for their bravery and ferocity and recognized by their distinctive clothing. One of their unique accessories was a metal disk, a chakkar, a sharp and lethal weapon that could be thrown or used at close range. The Punjabi word is related to “chakra,” the Sanskrit word for wheel; the common English term for this type of weapon is “quoit.” The Akalis wore chakkars on their turbans and on other parts of their bodies, as seen here.

The conical form of the Akalis’ turban is said to originate in ancient South Asian mythology, as a shrine to the seventh and highest energy center in the body. The chakkar, also seen in Hindu imagery, likewise suggests the cyclical nature of life, and the form appears as well at the center of the essential modern symbol of Sikhism, the Khanda.


More Information

Inscriptions: Print Sellers by Special Appointment to Her Majesty and H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent
Exhibition History: "Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017
Additional Label:

The Akalis (Immortals or Timeless Ones), were a class of Sikh warriors. Recognized for their bravery and ferocity, and by their distinctive clothing, the Akalis personified Sikh ideals of military courage and heroism. One of their unique accessories was a metal disk (chakkar), a sharp and lethal weapon, which could be thrown or used at close range. The Akalis wore chakkars on their turbans and on other parts of their bodies, as seen here.

Wednesday, December 26, 1838: “P., F., and I went to sketch some two miles off. There is a troop of Akalees [sic] close by, an alarming class of people . . . and Runjeet even cannot control them, so he has incorporated some of them with his guards, but they wear their own dark blue dresses, with quoits of steel hanging all over them, which they fling at anybody and everybody. . . . They are very picturesque.”

—Excerpt from Emily Eden, Up the Country: Letters Written to Her Sister from the Upper Provinces of India, 1866


Label:

The Akalis, whose name means “immortals” or “timeless ones,” were a class of Sikh warriors renowned for their bravery and ferocity and recognized by their distinctive clothing. One of their unique accessories was a metal disk, a chakkar, a sharp and lethal weapon that could be thrown or used at close range. The Punjabi word is related to “chakra,” the Sanskrit word for wheel; the common English term for this type of weapon is “quoit.” The Akalis wore chakkars on their turbans and on other parts of their bodies, as seen here.

The conical form of the Akalis’ turban is said to originate in ancient South Asian mythology, as a shrine to the seventh and highest energy center in the body. The chakkar, also seen in Hindu imagery, likewise suggests the cyclical nature of life, and the form appears as well at the center of the essential modern symbol of Sikhism, the Khanda.


Inscriptions: Print Sellers by Special Appointment to Her Majesty and H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent
Exhibition History: "Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017
Expanded Label:

The Akalis (Immortals or Timeless Ones), were a class of Sikh warriors. Recognized for their bravery and ferocity, and by their distinctive clothing, the Akalis personified Sikh ideals of military courage and heroism. One of their unique accessories was a metal disk (chakkar), a sharp and lethal weapon, which could be thrown or used at close range. The Akalis wore chakkars on their turbans and on other parts of their bodies, as seen here.

Wednesday, December 26, 1838: “P., F., and I went to sketch some two miles off. There is a troop of Akalees [sic] close by, an alarming class of people . . . and Runjeet even cannot control them, so he has incorporated some of them with his guards, but they wear their own dark blue dresses, with quoits of steel hanging all over them, which they fling at anybody and everybody. . . . They are very picturesque.”

—Excerpt from Emily Eden, Up the Country: Letters Written to Her Sister from the Upper Provinces of India, 1866