SWATHES of rich blue cloth – 4.5 metres of it to be exact – envelop potentially lethal weapons in this magnificent example of warrior wear.
Once worn by a group of Sikhs called Akali Nihangs, this turban was once the marker of a skilled warrior, who would wear it to hold steel daggers, swords and deadly throwing discs.
Today, it’s inspired a whole exhibition at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.
On loan from the British Museum, the turban – one of only five in Britain – is the starting point for an exhibition which traces the history of the Sikh faith.
Founded in India 500 years ago, Sikhism is one of the world’s youngest religious, yet it’s rich in history and tradition.
Museum manager Jo Cunningham said: “The turban is one of a loan series from the British Museum which sees them take one particular, stunning object from their collections and create an exhibition around it.
“It’s been creating a lot of interest from the Sikh community across the North East, as well as from non-Sikh religions. It’s a great way to break down barriers.”
Also running until November 16 at the venue is the BP Portrait Award.
Thanks to a strong relationship with the National Portrait Galley, the Museum and Winter Gardens was chosen as the only English venue outside of London to host the prestigious art prize. Councillor John Kelly, who is responsible for culture in the city, said: “Since the start of the Sikh Fortress Turban exhibition at the end of August, and the BP Portrait Award next door, there’s been 59,000 visitors through the doors here.
“You’d be hard pressed to find two such nationally-significant exhibitions anywhere else in the North East.”
l On Saturday Joojhaar Singh and Jaswinder Singh from Newcastle Gurdwara will give a talk at the museum about the spiritual significance of weaponry in the Sikh faith. The event will take place from 2pm to 4pm and admission is free.
•Tomorrow, November 7 and 14 there will be themed exhibition tours of the BP Portrait Award from 1pm to 2pm.