“Guru Hargobind named sword” amongst 157 artefacts returned from USA to India

The item has been described as “iron sword inscription- on the sword mentions the name of the Sikh religious Guru Hargob...

An interesting story has been revealed today, where the Indian Government has received 157 artefacts from the USA. They were handed over to India, by the US during Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit. The USA President Joe Biden expressed commitment to strengthening efforts to combat theft, illicit trade and trafficking of cultural objects.

In 2019, an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) team had visited New York and identified close to a hundred of these artefacts, seized in the US, as “original Indian antiquities of tremendous value”, known to be stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh and smuggled abroad. ASI ADG, Archaeology, Urmila Sant, who was part of the team, had visited the US following a call from the office of Consulate General of India about the seized artefacts.

The objects includes a diverse range of artefacts half of which (71) are cultural, the other half consists of figurines related to Hinduism (60), Buddhism (16) and Jainism (9). They ranging from the one-and-a-half metre bas relief panel of Revanta in sandstone of the 10th CE to the 8.5 cm tall, exquisite bronze Nataraja from the 12th CE. Amongst them it was seen that one objects was described as being Sikh. The object is stated to bear the name of Guru Hargobind and originally from the Punjab.

The item has been described as “iron sword inscription- on the sword mentions the name of the Sikh religious Guru Hargobind Das. The inscription is in Persian language and written in Nastaliq Style of Caligraphy”. The small dagger can be better described as a PeshKabz and dates from the eighteenth century based on the information supplied, it is supported with a sheath.

These style of Peshkabz were common amongst Sikhs but it is not known where in India this was was taken from. Historian Gurinder Singh Mann stated, ” Whilst this is an interesting revelation, details are sparse. The dating of the Peshkabz from the eighteenth century would confirm that the small sword did not belong to Guru Hargobind Sahib. Why the name of the Guru appears on the dagger would need to be determined in due course.”

It has not been clarified which museum will house these artifacts but the National Museum in Delhi would be a strong contender another possibility is that the he art pieces will be sent to the original locations from where they were stolen after a due process.

The Sikh Museum Initiative will update readers after they have received further details.

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