The Art of the Golden Temple: Link With The Past and the Present

  • Dr. Simrita Singh

Abstract

From the very beginning of Man’s coming on earth, it would seem, art has been an integral part of virtually all cultures, gracing buildings, clothing, bodies, utensils, weapons, vehicles - almost every appurtenance of daily life including the Divine. In India, Art found its home in the temple. Sikhism arose as a reformatory movement in the 16th century in the wake of the Bhakti Cult. The founding of Sri Harmandir also known as The Golden Temple at Amritsar was a landmark in this respect. The Golden Temple, in due course has become an unparalleled place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs. The shining splendour of the Golden Temple is witness to the high skill of the traditional craftsmen. To fulfill his dream of devotional love Maharaja Ranjit Singh chalked out a plan to decorate the Golden Temple with layers of gold, Pietra Deura and the interiors extremely attractive. For this purpose he invited the most reputed carving experts to bring and exhibit their work specimens in Amritsar. For this purpose he appointed Bhai Sant Singh Giani [1803] as Supervisor and the decoration work was handed over to the able artisan Mohammad Yaar Khan. And Sardar Kehar Singh .He was conversant with all the intricacies and variations of ‘Naqquashi’. Being a ‘puran’ Gur Sikh he rejected the Hindu style of painting because of its excessive portrayal of ‘Incarnation’ and did not approve of Mughal ‘Mohrakashi’ for its gaudy style and showy exteriors. He thought that both these styles were not suitable for the simple tenets of Sikhism and a sober and pure place of worship like the Golden Temple. This article attempts to look into the evolution and the link of the historical and theological roots of the works of art rendered on the surfaces of the Golden Temple from the past to the ongoing restorations and the renovations till today, and to gradually piece together the reality of creation of the Golden Temple from the very beginning, the art and architecture and those who worked on it and the sublime manifestation of their creativity and devotion.

Published
2019-10-09