Decor for living room

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ABOVE Baba Atal’s Tower, Amritsar, watercolour, William Carpenter, c.1854. RIGHT Maharajah Gulab Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, c.1846. TOP Architectural tile, Lahore, seventeenth century became known as Amritsar (meaning ‘pool of nectar’). Decor for living room The monument at its centre, the Harmandir (‘temple of God’) or Golden Temple, developed into the most important Sikh place of pilgrimage. Perturbed by the growing strength of Sikhism, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir (r. 1605—27) ordered the governor of Lahore to arrest Guru Arjun, who was tortured to death. During the course of the seventeenth century, the Sikhs were forced to defend themselves, culminating in 1699 with the transformation by the last of the ten gurus of Sikhism, Gobind Singh, of a large section of his followers into a casteless fighting force, the Khalsa or ‘order of the pure’, ready to take up arms against injustice and tyranny. As Mughal power waned in the face of invasions from Iran and Afghanistan, the Sikhs divided into twelve independent commands, or misls, fought off their enemies, appropriated the land and settled down to squabble among themselves. When, in 1796, the Afghans attacked the Punjab, Ranjit Singh, illiterate son of a misl leader, alone stood his ground, taking over the Sikh militias and winning back Lahore. He was proclaimed Maharajah of the Punjab in 1801 and the golden age of Sikh art commenced. The Harmandir was restored and embellished with gilding, marble, mirror and inlay work. But evidently conscious of inheriting the last great Mughal court of India, the Maharajah also ensured that Mughal monuments were conserved. Celebrated gems and jewelled artefacts that once belonged to Jahangir and Shahjahan were acquired.

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