Kids Corner


Saints And Kings:
Arts, Culture, And Legacy Of The Sikhs





A gracious conversation, a scholarly sermon, a lively portrait rendered in jewel-tone watercolors from centuries past: the enduring milestones of learning and tolerance.

Until June 18, 2017, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California, USA, presents ‘Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs‘, a treasure box of thirty rare paintings, military artifacts, textiles, photographs and more that together reveal the multi-faceted history -- and surprising California connections -- of this vibrant community which has its origins in Punjab.

Drawn from the Asian Art Museum’s Sikh art collection, the largest in the United States, these carefully selected artworks shed light on the religious philosophy and cultural identity of the Sikhs. The spirit of this distinct community derives from the teachings of saint Guru Nanak (1469–1539) and his nine successors, as well as the historical memory of India’s Sikh kingdoms, including the great empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the 1800s.

Highlights include an 11-foot-long battle standard from the 1830-40s, displayed for the first time in over a decade, as well as intriguing lithographs of the celebrated court of Ranjit Singh, as recorded by British traveler Emily Eden during this same period. In addition, painted and photographed portraits from the turn of the last century reflect a perceptive combination of history and modernity as the Sikh rulers sought to safeguard their ideals in a changing, globalized world.

“’Saints and Kings’ is a timely opportunity to share the pluralistic values of the Sikhs as communicated through their artistic traditions -- traditions that are often unfamiliar to American audiences,” says exhibition organizer Qamar Adamjee, the museum’s associate curator of South Asian and Islamic art. “The rich culture is the focus in ‘Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs’ through the charismatic teachings of a Guru who preached equality. These expressions of inclusion and self-respect are more relevant than ever.”

The exhibition also draws attention to the community’s special relation to the West Coast. Sikhs were the first South Asians in North America, arriving in California by the thousands in the early 1900s: a unique history recently honored as part of the official state school curriculum.

As integral members of their local communities -- initially as experienced farmers and today as leaders in technology and business sectors -- ‘Saints and Kings’ also tells a story that is deeply woven into the Bay Area’s diverse social and immigrant legacy.

[Edited for]
March 13, 2017

Conversation about this article

1: Arjan Singh (USA), March 13, 2017, 5:47 PM.

Entire Sikh community in the area must visit this art event. They must also invite their friends and family members to attend, as the Arts is one of the best mediums to educate the world about the Sikhs. There is so much ignorance around the world about us that each community in the USA and Canada needs to organize an Arts event each month at a minimum.

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Arts, Culture, And Legacy Of The Sikhs"

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