This is a Carte de Visite portrait of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Ranbir Singh (1830-1885).
After the decline of the Mughals, power over Jammu was seized briefly by the Afghan Durrani dynasty who were defeated in the early 19th-century by the armies of the Lion of Punjab aka Ranjit Singh, the first Maharaja of the Sikhs. In 1809, a Dogra Rajput called Gulab Singh joined the Sikh army as a cavalry officer. He became such a trusted aide that in 1846, following their defeat in the Anglo-Sikh war, the Sikhs of Lahore gave him the task of mediating peace with the East India Company.
Gulab Singh was succeeded by his son, Ranbir Singh. The Maharaja was fluent in Sanskrit, Persian, and Pushtu. Like his father, Ranbir Singh worked to maintain amity with the British, even through the Revolt of 1857. During the Maharaja’s reign, which lasted from 1856 to 1885, Jammu was regarded as an important industrial centre, with exports of the exquisite ‘cashmere’ shawls reaching record highs.
TitleRanbir Singh, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
PhotographerBourne and Shepherd
DimensionsH: 10.5 cm x W: 6.5 cm
Accession No.2019.24.2 (9)