Sikhism: The Akalis

Holy Sikh

Akalis at the Holy Tank, Amritsar – 1867

This chromolithograph is taken from plate 33 of William Simpson’s ‘India: Ancient and Modern’. The term Akalis was first used of the irregular armed Sikhs who resisted Mughal forces in the late 17th century. It meant ‘Divine’ or ‘Immortals’. Staunch practitioners of the Sikh faith, these ascetic warriors wore blue clothing, steel bracelets and a conical turban over which were placed steel rings sharpened on the outer edge, which were used as a throwing weapon. The Holy Tank at Amritsar was excavated in the time of the fourth Sikh Guru, Ram Das (1534-1581), and was part of the complex of the most sacred shrine of the Sikhs.


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