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The article deals with the specifi cs of perception of Maharaja Ranjit Singh from the British offi cials and European travelers in the fi rst half of the 19th century. The factors that infl uenced on the perception of Ranjit Singh as an “atypical” eastern ruler are analyzed. The conclusions about the patterns of the positive representation of Sikh maharaja, as an ally of the British as well as an individual of unique personal qualities are drawn. It is proved that in the perception of Ranjit Singh a certain idealization of the image of the Sikh sovereign took place, caused primarily by the political factors. The British highly appreciated the alliance with Ranjit Singh as the Union contributed not only to maintain the military-political stability in the entire north-western region, but also to provide the success of the activities of the East India Company in the Central Asian direction. Sikh empire in Punjab was viewed primarily as a buffer state in the north-western border of the subcontinent protecting the British ownership in India from any potential threats coming from Central Asia and Afghanistan, regardless of the fact whether they were real or imaginary. It is noted that on the perception of the Maharaja the essential impress was imposed by his personal qualities and charm, experienced by the greater part of European visitors. Participation in various events of court life, such as large-scale hunting, joint dinners, parades and military parades, as well as a high level of confi dence that Ranjit Singh demonstrated towards his European guests, only reinforced the positive perception of his image. These facts taken together resulted in positive perception of Maharaja’s image by Europeans and forgiveness those of his drawbacks that other eastern rulers were blamed for.


India, British Empire, Ranjit Singh, Maharaja, Sikhs, Punjab

Kirill A. Demichev

Nizhny Novgorod Institute of Management Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Russia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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