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Akali Nihung Turban display at British Museum

17/2/2011 to 17/4/2011

This magnificent turban on display in Room 3 of the British Museum is a rare example of a distinct type known as a dastaar boonga, literally meaning a ‘towering fortress'. This style of turban was worn by a group of Sikhs called Akali Nihangs. These skilled warriors used this type of turban to hold their weapons, including daggers, swords and deadly throwing discs. Some Akali Nihangs still wear this type of turban today as a symbolic representation of this tradition.

It is unclear how long this turban has been in the Museum's collection, but it originally dates from the late 19th century and had come to London by the early 1900s. The turban displayed weapons, including two double-edged swords, six throwing discs, and one dagger, and a badge of the 45th Rattray's Sikh Battalion, which eventually became the 3rd Battalion Sikh Regiment of the present-day Indian Army.

The cloth in the original turban is now so fragile that Museum experts have had to use new fabric to display the weapons and badge. Members of the Sikh community, working closely with the Museum's experts, have reconstructed how it would have looked using traditional tying techniques and 37 metres of cloth.

Visit this display to encounter a unique symbol of faith, and hear members of the Sikh community explain why the turban remains important to them today

Location: Room 3, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG


Special event

Sikh New Year: free family day on Saturday 16 April, 11.00-16.00, Great Court, British Museum

Celebrate Vaisakhi (Sikh New Year) with free family activities. Learn how to tie a traditional Sikh turban and watch a demonstration of the ancient Sikh martial art of Gatka.

Free lunchtime talks

Every Tuesday to Saturday, you can drop in to free 45-minute gallery talks about the collection and exhibitions, suitable for all levels of knowledge.

Special talks

'The Sikh turban: heritage and history' on Friday 25 February, 13.15, Room 3 by Paramdip Khera, British Museum

'Creating the replica: conservation and community' on Wednesday 16 March, 13.15, Room 3 by Monique Pullan, British Museum, and Parmjit Singh, UK Punjab Heritage Association

'The Sikh turban: faith and identity' on Saturday 16 April, 13.15, Room 3 by Harwinder Singh, Sikh Education Council

'Soldier Sikhs and the Rattray Clan' on Saturday 16 April, 15.00, Room 3 by Hugh Rattray, The Clan Rattray Society

For further information visit and

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