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  • Place of origin:

    Lahore (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1839-1858 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood and ivory, carved and painted.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the 'Lion of the Panjab' who had unified the region and created a strong Sikh state, died in June 1839 and was cremated. His successor, Kharak Singh, began construction of a samadh or funerary monument to commemorate him on 7 August in the capital at Lahore, on a site north of Hazuri Bagh near Lahore Fort. After Ranjit Singh's death the kingdom was plagued by rivalry among his successors. The state was annexed in 1849 by the British, and they later completed the monument.

Architectural models were made in many parts of India during the 19th century as souvenirs or records of famous buildings, often commissioned by British residents in India during their stay on the subcontinent. The very large and detailed model of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh's samadh came into the collections of the East India Company's Museum in London. It was displayed imposingly there in the first gallery of the 'New Museum', rooms which opened in 1858. Then in 1879 it was transferred with thousands of other objects from the India Museum to South Kensington, the future V&A.

At that time fires were a common hazard and difficult to control. In the 1880s a fire raged through the annex destroying most of the model. Some of the surviving parts were subsequently transferred to the National Museum of Ireland and the Royal Museum of Scotland. Twelve fragments of the model were all that remained in the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection.

Physical description

Twelve surviving parts of a model of the Samadh or funerary memorial monument of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The model was badly damaged by fire in the 1880s. Several parts were destroyed and some of the remaining sections show evidence of damage.

Parts 1, 2, 4 and 10 are probably from the interior baradari, the central section of the Samadh, which is carved in white marble. The models replicate lotus bud motifs.
Parts 3 and 8 and 11 are probably from the exterior.
Parts 5 and 9 are probably from the exterior, from the central section of the gateway to the Samadh which is of red sandstone.

Place of Origin

Lahore (probably, made)


1839-1858 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Wood and ivory, carved and painted.


Height: 41.7 cm Part 6, Width: 34.1 cm Part 6, Depth: 7 cm Part 6, Height: 42 cm Part 7, Width: 33.9 cm Part 7, Depth: 6.8 cm Part 7, Height: 42.7 cm Part 12, Width: 63.2 cm Part 12, Depth: 6.1 cm Part 12

Object history note

The original building was completed after 1849. This model was held in the collection of the India Museum, London, and was partially repaired in 1877 according to the records of the India Museum. It was transferred to the South Kensington Museum in 1879 and severely damaged by fire in the 1880s.

Descriptive line

Parts of a model of the funerary monument of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Panjab, Pakistan or India

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

N. BARNARD : 'Sections of a model of the Samadh of Maharaja Ranjit Singh' in S. STRONGE (ed.) The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms, London, 1999 . ISBN 1851772626 . Catalogue number 151 and plate 17.
Ray DESMOND The India Museum 1801-1879, London, 1982, p42 and Plate 20
F.S.AIJAZUDDIN Lahore - illustrated views of the 19th century, Lahore, 1991
p. 24, pl. 17, cat. no. 151, p. 230
Stronge, S. (Ed.) "The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", V&A, 1999


Sikhism; Architecture; India Museum


South & South East Asia Collection

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