Gum tempera and gold on paper
Overall: 19.8 x 13.8 cm (7 13/16 x 5 7/16 in.)
Gift of J. H. Wade 1925.1338
Gulab Singh (1792-1857) was a powerful ruler of the Sikhs, members of a monotheistic religion founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539) in the northern Indian region of the Punjab. Often in conflict with the Mughals, they rejected the more naturalistic Mughal portrait styles. Sikh rulers in the Punjab and the neighboring Himalayan foothill region of Jammu adopted the mode of courtly portraiture that was current among the Rajputs, who were rulers of Hindu regions and principalities of northern and western India. The umbrella held over his head is a millennia-old marker of royalty, and beginning in the 1700s, the hookah was an emblem of power among the Rajputs.
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