Sikh Fortress Turban

Wardown Park Museum, Luton
3 June 2015 – 6 September 2015

Sikh Akali-Nihang turban

Recommend this exhibition

Sikhism is one of the youngest world religions, emerging in India some 500 years ago. Many Sikh men wrap cloth around their uncut hair, making a turban; this is an important symbol of their faith.

This magnificent turban is a replica of a distinct type known as a dastaar boonga, literally meaning a ‘towering fortress’. This style of turban was worn by a group of Sikhs called Akali Nihangs. These skilled warriors used this type of turban to hold their weapons, including daggers, swords and deadly throwing discs. Some Akali Nihangs still wear this type of turban today as a symbolic representation of this tradition.

The original turban dates from the late 19th century and was certainly in London by the early 20th century. The cloth of the original turban is now so fragile that British Museum experts used new fabric to display the various weapons, ornaments and the badge of the Rattray Battalion of the British Indian Army. Members of the Sikh community, working closely with the Museum’s experts, reconstructed how it would have looked using traditional tying techniques and 37 metres of cloth.

The replica fortress turban will be on tour across six venues within the UK until November 2014. Developed in partnership with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the exhibition will also include contributions from Birmingham’s Sikh community explaining why the turban remains important to them today.

Previous venues

Bede's World
17 February – 1 June 2015

Museum of Lancashire, Preston 
29 November 2014 – 15 February 2015

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
23 August – 16 November 2014

New Walk Museum, Leicester
24 May – 17 August 2014

Cartwright Hall, Bradford
22 February - 18 May 2014

The Herbert, Coventry
24 August - 17 November 2013

Tower Museum, Derry
3 May - 28 July 2013

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
26 January - 28 April 2013

Sikh Akali-Nihang turban

Sikh Akali-Nihang turban (dastaar boonga), blue cloth (21st century) with steel quoits and ornaments, Punjab, India, 19th century.