Vaisakhi Spotlight: Jot Singh Khalsa
A true artist craftsmen of award-winning kirpans, knives and swords
To be an artist, one must draw from their creativity, experience, ability and I often believe from their soul. A true artisan is one who creates, inspires and produces unforgettable pieces of art, whether a painting, a sculpture, or in the case of Jot Singh Khalsa, the craftsmanship of award-winning kirpans, knives and swords.Known around the world for his fine craftsmanship, utmost quality and attention to detail, Jot Singh has been designing custom-made knives, swords and kirpans since 1979. He strives to create pieces, which represent a classic harmony of form, function and feel. He enjoys choosing materials that best complement a design, for example, he uses lapis lazuli, jade, turquoise, as well as natural mother-of-pearl and abalone for the handle materials.
“I believe each one of us comes to this life with unique gifts, part of what I teach in Kundalini yoga and meditation is I teach people how to get in touch with their gifts,” says Jot Singh. “My gifts seem to be in having an eye for creating wonderful, very highly decorated art in the form of edged tools and weapons, as well as increasingly artful jewellery and jewellery-type objects.”
Jot Singh attended the State University of New York in the 1970’s, and as an arts studio major, he learned metalsmith and jewellery making skills in gold, silver and non-precious metals. During this time, he started practicing yoga and meditation taught by Yogi Bhajan, and adopted the Sikh faith and became a baptized Sikh. Jot Singh joined the Knifemakers Guild after completing university, which allowed him to learn from established knifemakers and bladesmiths in the United States. His first manufacturing shop was established in the basement of one of the 3HO Foundation ashram homes in Massachusetts, and Khalsa Kirpans was born as a business in 1979. Jot Singh and his wife, Harbhajan Kaur live at Guru Ram Das Ashram in Millis, MA, which is also home to his manufacturing shop.
Jot Singh’s knives (straight and folding), swords (including Sikh wedding swords) and kirpans are hand-and-custom made, he employs the stock removal method in grinding blades and all other processes are done by hand, utilizing diverse tools and machinery. With increasing demand from customers for kirpans, Khalsa Kirpans now offers artisan-made kirpans, which are hand-made, comes in two sizes and three colours. Jot Singh searched for an excellent manufacturer that could produce the kirpans at a cost-effective price for customers, but also according to his designs and high standards for excellence in craftsmanship.“I work with the best in the world. I seek out the best engravers alive, and I work with them constantly, these are the most talented, brilliant artists,” says Jot Singh.
Over the last 17 years, Jot Singh has received requests from Sikhs around the world, including Siri Singh Sahib and Yogi Bhajan, to create some unique pieces, which are part of Khalsa Kirpan’s The Legacy Series. These include The Sikh Dharma Dagger, which Jot Singh crafted in 1992, followed by The Sword of Baisakhi 1999 and The Sword of the Siri Singh Sahib in 2002. As a form of seva, it took Jot Singh over a year to construct and cost $295,000 to create the one-of-a-kind Sword of Baisakhi 1999 boasting a 36-inch nickel Damascus steel blade. This work of art made from gold, silver and diamonds was presented at the 300-year anniversary celebration of the Birth of Khalsa in Anandpur Sahib, where it is currently on display.
“While working on the Sword of Baisakhi 1999, I was not paid at all for my time in assembling the sword and organizing the project. It was all done as seva [selfless service], which continues to play a large role in my life and is part of what I share through my teaching as well. I believe it to be one of the pillars of true prosperity.”In addition to Khalsa Kirpans, Jot Singh also has two other companies. LifeKnives which offers high-quality miniature knife and dagger pendants, earrings, bracelets and pins for both men and women. Jot Singh creates this form of jewellery to serve as a reminder for individuals to cut through life’s challenges and achieve excellence. The Khalsa Raj Collection offers contemporary jewellery and artful objects meant to uplift and inspire the wearer.
“My teacher Yogi Bajan, who was a very intuitive man, wrote me a letter about 25 years ago, and said to me, ‘Son, you have artistic gifts, make things that uplift and inspire people.’ So in my most prayerful and humble way, we try to do that in everything that we offer.”