On 26th October, Monday it emerged that Maharani Jindan Kaur’s Jewels were auctioned off at £62,500 at Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art Sale in London.
The Jewels of the last wife of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the Lion of Punjab were inherited by her granddaughter Princess Bamba Sutherland and were the key highlights of the auction. The only surviving widow of Ranjit Singh, Jindan Kaur (1817-1863) led the resistance to the encroachment of the British into the Punjab, but was eventually forced to surrender. More than 600 pieces of her jewellery from the legendary treasury of Lahore were confiscated, and she was imprisoned before escaping to Nepal in 1848.
The jewellery in the sale included the gem-set gold forehead pendant (chand-tikka), gem-set gold mirrored roundel and a pearl-mounted gold pendant are estimated at £60,000-80,000. All these prized possessions were most certainly within the casket of jewels handed back to Maharani Jindan Kaur by the British authorities when she agreed to live in London. She stayed with her son, Duleep Singh, with whom she was reunited in Calcutta in 1861. Although Prince Duleep Singh eventually returned to Lahore, his eldest daughter Princess Bamba remained in England, where she had been born and raised, (the Princess attended Oxford University and medical school in America). Eventually the Princess also settled permanently in Lahore towards the end of her life, presenting the jewels to her friend, Mrs Dora Crowe.
Oliver White of Bonhams Head of Islamic and Indian Art said, "These are wonderful jewels in their own right, made more special still by their rich and fascinating history – the circular stoned gold and mirrored brooch was, according to Princess Bamba, formerly part of Maharajah Duleep Singh's horse harness. They represent a remarkable link back to one of the richest treasuries in the world."
Other prized possessions included: A rare 19th century panoramic watercolour view of the Golden Temple and the city of Amritsar, attributed to Cyril Herbert (1847-1882; A portrait, dated 1853 of Rajah Shere Singh Attariwala, Sikh commander and general, once owned by the Marquess of Dalhousie, Governor-General of India by Colesworthy Grant (1813-1880); A portrait of Viscount Hardinge of Lahore, Governor-General of India, accompanied by his two sons and his aide-de-camp Colonel Wood, on the battlefield after the victory at Ferozeshah during the first Anglo-Sikh war by Sir Francis Grant (1803-78).