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Leicester Sikh Manuscript

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SMI 15: Sikh manuscript
Date: Early 1800 Size: 28 cm x 19 cm
Previous Location: Punjab, India.
Location: MS 241, University of Leicester

A Sikh Manuscript found on the battlefields of Ferozeshah, Punjab containing verses from the Sikh Scriptures. Written in the Gurmukhi script with coloured texts interspersed at the headings of verses.

History

The Sikh manuscript contains compositions from the Guru Granth Sahib-the ‘Living Guru’ of the Sikhs and the Secondary scripture the Dasam Granth. The breviary or Gutka was taken from the battlefields of Punjab during the First Anglo Sikh War (1845-1846) which pitched the Sikh Empire against the East India Company.

The Breviary’s flyleaf donates that the Manuscript was found at the battle of Ferozeshah, which was the second battle in the First Anglo Sikh Wars. The battle left the East India Company and the fate of British India in the balance. The end of the battles in 1849 led to the annexation of the Punjab.

It is not know how the manuscript was brought to the UK, however by the early 1900’s it came into the collection of Harry Hardy Peach (1874–1936), who with his father had set up a bookshop in Leicester, specialising in manuscripts and early printed books. He eventually set up a global business called Dryad Handicrafts in 1917, where he had created deck chairs on the Titanic as well as creating handicrafts to aid wounded soldiers in World War 1. At his death in 1936 Dryad Handicrafts was the largest supplier of handicraft materials in the world.

He donated a number of manuscripts and books to the University College (later to become the University of Leicester) and other artefacts to the Leicester Museum Service.

Read more on the history of the manuscript here

Additional information

This MS was exhibited at the exhibition: Anglo Sikh Wars: Battles, Treaties and Relics in 2017.

An image of the Manuscript is featured in the book The British and the Sikhs

Further reading on the Anglo Sikh Wars

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