Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sotheby’s bows to Sikh protestors

There is a certain disquiet caused by the decision by Sotheby's auction house to withdraw from auction a set of body armour that Sikhs say once belonged to Guru Gobind Singh. The protests were in India, and one can only assume that there was a fear of such kirpan-wielding protests spreading to the UK, as some violent Sikhs have mounted on a previous occasion.

The armour allegedly belonged to Guru Gobind Singh - the tenth and last religious leader of the Sikhs (notwithstanding that they now believe the Guru Granth Sahib [their scriptures] to be a living guru, and treat it accordingly).

The Sotheby's catalogue lists the item as an 18th century ‘rare Sikh steel armour plate’ from what is now the north-west India and Pakistan region, with an estimated value of £10-12,000 ($20-24,000).

But there is not a shred of evidence to support the claims that the armour once belonged to Guru Gobind Singh. Sotheby’s state that they have ‘researched the provenance of this piece (and) in the course of this research, Sotheby's has not found or been given any evidence to indicate ownership of this piece by Guru Gobind Singh. We therefore do not deem the piece to be a relic of the Guru.’

But that is no matter. It is what these Sikh protesters believe that is the important thing. Why should inconvenient facts get in the way of subjective sentimentalism and religious fervour?

One wonders what notice Sotheby's might take of Christians anywhere abroad who might object to the auctioning of the odd relic (and there are one or two lying around). Or is their policy formulation contingent on the possession of a kirpan?


Anonymous Obnoxio The Clown said...

Archbishop, it should come as no surprise that people of other faiths have duly noted the craven cowardice of the Great British public towards militant Islam and have decided to help themselves to a portion of the rewards of waving a sword around.

I fully expect other faiths to follow suit.

9 April 2008 at 16:24  
Anonymous oiznop said...

It's a pity that Jesus said he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.

9 April 2008 at 16:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is being blown out of all proportion. They're peacefully protesting which is all we can ask; we live in a democracy and if these people wish to protest for what they believe is right, then I say go for it.

It will be a sad day when communities or groups feel so suppressed that they feel they cannot campaign for what they believe.

9 April 2008 at 17:33  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace,

Let's be sensible. Sotheby's is a commercial organisation. As such it has no moral codes or positions except those that the Directors are sufficiently commercial astute to apply.

Cui Bono?

Actually I think they've missed a trick here. The potential uproar would have brought these artifacts to the attention of a much wider audience, thereby increasing the number of bidders (and profits). But Sotheby's has been sufficiently embarrassed in recent years over the provenance of some lots. Perhaps it has decided to adopt a low profile.

9 April 2008 at 18:30  
Blogger The Black Fingernail said...

Since when did a peaceful protest in the sub-continent affect England?

Oh, hang on, there was Ghandi. Yeah. But since him, what protests in India have got Britain riled?

Oh, hang on, there was Shilpa Shetty and that Big Brother racism thing. Even Gordon Brown went over and apologised.

Shall we get Indians to demand a referendum on the EU's Constitution?

9 April 2008 at 18:59  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
seek and ye shall find , the struggle of wether god inhabits the living or eminates from a statue seems to not go away .

although the sikhs view of christians has mostly been favourable and by enlarge seem to seek peace and harmony as opposed to radical takeover

9 April 2008 at 19:00  
Anonymous mickey said...

Your Grace,

We, the British, should buy this item for the Sikhs and gift it to them. And this is just one small reason why:

"Defence chiefs have abandoned plans to raise a regiment of British Sikhs amid fears that the move would be branded racist.

The proposal to create the regiment, reminiscent of those that fought for Britain in the two world wars, was dropped by the Ministry of Defence after discussions with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE).

Sikh leaders had informed Army recruitment officers that they could easily find enough volunteers to form a 700-strong regiment. However, despite the infantry being under strength by 3,000 soldiers, the offer was rejected."

10 April 2008 at 08:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't the Sikhs just buy the wretched thing?

10 April 2008 at 15:25  

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