Auction Date: 26/11/2014 at 01pm
India – Sikh history – Jacquemont account of the Lahore Court of Ranjit Singh. Rare 1835 edition of Letters from India, Describing a Journey in the British Dominions of India, Tibet, Lahore and Cashmere, during the years 1828, 1829, 1830, 1831, undertaken by order of the French Government by Victor Jacquemont, 1835 edition 2 vols, 363pp, 374pp. Engraved frontispieces and vignette half-titles to each. Jacquemont in the company of Lord William Bentinck arrived in 1830 at Simla. He obtained permission to visit Punjab and Kashmir. At Lahore, he successfully obtained audiences with Ranjit Singh. Arriving at the Court of Lahore in 1831 he made detail notes and description of all Ranjit Singh’s family members and courtiers. Unlike most of his contemporaries he made no attempt to disguise himself. Jacquemont provides a fascinating account of the royal Sikh Durbar the Sikhs Akalis etc: ‘The Akalis or immortals are properly speaking Sikh fakirs’ he states. ‘The sacred pool at Amritsar is their headquarters but they often spread themselves over the Punjab in large and formidable parties. Ranjit wisely turns their ferocity to his own advantage. He enlists them in his armies and employs them preferably against Mussalman enemies. He has at the moment 4000-5000 of them in the army which he maintains at Attock ready to march against another fanatic Syed. I have only seen two of them in the streets of Amritsar it was evening and the matches of their muskets hung ready lighted. I had never seen more sinister looking figures.’ He describes Ranjit Singh: “His right eye which remains is very large his nose is fine and slightly turned up his mouth firm his teeth excellent. He wears a slight moustache which he twists incessantly with his fingers and a long thin beard which falls to his chest. His expression shows nobility of thought shrewdness and penetration and these indications are correct.” A very rare and early important account of the Sikh Kingdom in the life time of the great Ranjit Singh.