Dastar Bungga c18, © © Royal Armouries – Non-Commercial Licence
This is a Dastar Bungga, meaning ‘towering fortress’. These pointed turbans of
wound silk were worn by the warriors of a Sikh sect during the 17th
and 18th centuries.
Their name was the Akali Nihangs, which means ‘armed crocodile’ and you can see why. Steel bladed weapons called ‘chakrams’ were carried in the tall caps and thrown at enemies but the Akali also carried swords and even pistols.
‘While riding or on foot, the flying movement of the loose end of the turban was like a flag, demonstrating their magnificence.’ Mufti 'Ali ud-Din, Ibratnamah (1854)
Things to think about:
- The Dastar Bungga is a rich blue. Why might colour in a uniform be important?
- The Turbans are very tall and towering, do you think they were designed to intimidate their enemies?
This Turban is held by the Royal Armouries and makes an interesting addition to a discussion about war-dress and armour. While the Turban would have provided little protection to the wearer it was used to hold weapons. How does it compare to other forms of war-dress?
- Quoit turban (dastar bungga). Indian, Akali Sikh, Lahore, 18th century. This cap is made of cane and is of tall conical shape wrapped with a paggri of dark blue silk, the ends of which are ornamented with silver thread. The front of the cap carries a vertical strip of steel with transverse crescent shapes and a spear shaped finial. This is held to the cap with a long cord of plaited steel wire with gilt ends, wound round the centre of the cap many times. Into this are thrust three small steel knives. Placed over the cap are six steel quoits, 'chakram', with sharpened edges of varying sizes, the largest resting just above the lower edge of the cap, the smallest just below the top.
- This is a Dastar Bungga, meaning ‘towering fortress’. These pointed turbans of wound silk were worn by the warriors of a Sikh sect during the 17th and 18th centuries.