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Medal - Order of Merit with a Portrait of Ranjit Singh

Order of Merit with a Portrait of Ranjit Singh

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Lahore (made)

  • Date:

    1837-1839 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled gold, set with emeralds and rock crystal

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This order of merit was introduced by Ranjit Singh, the first Sikh maharaja of the Panjab (r.1801–1839), and seems to have been directly inspired by the French Legion d’honneur worn by one of his foreign military commanders, General Allard. It may be the ‘Star of the Prosperity of the Panjab’ instituted in 1837. This example was said to have been owned formerly by Duleep Singh, Ranjit Singh’s son and the last Sikh maharaja of the Panjab, who lost his territory when the Panjab was annexed by the British in 1849.

Physical description

The medal is of gold, and has a flat pendant with 10 projecting rays set with pale beryls on the front. The back has an enamelled ground of translucent green, decorated with white flowers that have opaque pale green leaves.The front is set with a circular portrait of Ranjit Singh sitting on a terrace with a white balustrade against a blue background. He holds a bow and is facing right. The upper domed section hangs from a circular ring and is enamelled in white, and translucent red and green.

Place of Origin

Lahore (made)


1837-1839 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Enamelled gold, set with emeralds and rock crystal


Height: 9.1 cm, Width: 4.8 cm

Historical context note

This was said to have belonged formerly to Duleep Singh, the last Sikh Maharaja of the Panjab who was deposed when the British annexed his territories in 1849. It was bought from Christie's, London, Objects of Vertu, Tuesday 24 February 1981, lot no. 25.

Descriptive line

Order of Merit; enamelled gold set with emeralds; Lahore, Pakistan; ca.1837-9.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Susan Stronge, Nima Smith and J.C. Harle, A Golden Treasury, V&A Publications, 1988, cat. 64.
Susan Stronge, ed., The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms, V&A Publications, London 1999, cat. 149 pp. 229-30, illus. pl. 99.

Guy, J., and Swallow, D., (eds). ‘Arts of India: 1550-1900’. London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1990. ISBN 1851770224. p.191, pl.166.
Susan Stronge, Nima Smith, and J.C. Harle. A Golden Treasury : Jewellery from the Indian Subcontinent London : Victoria and Albert Museum in association with Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, 1988. ISBN: 0944142168
Susan Stronge, ed., The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms, V&A Publications, 1999, cat. 149a, p.229 and pl. 99.
p. 109, cat. no. 302
The Indian heritage : court life & arts under Mughal rule : Victoria & Albert Museum 21 April-22 August 1982. [London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982] Number: 0905209206 (pbk.)


Gold; Enamel; Emerald; Rock crystal


ELISE; Images Online; Portraits; Royalty; Coins and Medals


South & South East Asia Collection

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