“Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs,” an ongoing exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, showcases both the multifarious religious and cultural heritage of Sikhs and their ineluctable connection to the state of California.
The exhibition features dozens of rare paintings, along with photographs, military objects and textiles relating to Sikhism, the religion founded by Guru Nanak (1469–1539). Among these are rare lithographs of the greatly admired court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who put Sikh kingdoms in the 1800s.
The gathering also recalls how Sikhs were among the first Indians to emigrate to the US, during the early 1900s. The first-generations Sikhs, like many immigrants then, worked as skilled farmers.
“Saints and Kings is a timely opportunity to share the pluralistic values of the Sikhs as communicated through their artistic traditions — traditions that are often unfamiliar to American audiences,” said Qamar Adamjee, the Asian Art museum’s associate curator of South Asian and Islamic art. “The culture is rich with customs centered on the charismatic teachings of a Guru who preached equality, and these expressions of inclusion and self-respect are more relevant than ever.”
“Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs” is on until June 18.