Growing up with Sikh heritage in my family and community, I have observed countless dastaars (also called turbans, pagaries, and damallay) and been intrigued by their many styles and unique qualities as varied as the wearer.
Dastaars, to me, are a sign of sovereignty in Sikh tradition. Once worn only by kings and upper classmen, Sikh Gurus and followers began wearing dastaars as part of a movement to show the masses that they too could wear them and be sovereigns. In their fight for equality and rights for all, they were elevated.
As a civil engineer, I am accustomed to visualizing much of the built environment through perspectives, or viewing angles, and recognizing objects through their construction in three distinct dimensions. Elevation drawings are elegant in their simplification and as a tool for visualization.
Dastaars are all completely unique and despite the lack of visualization of the person under and below the dastaar shown in these artworks, it is amazing how recognizable these depictions are. Often, dastaars are seen as accessories or hats, headdresses to be worn on special occasions. I believe they are part of the person, an important component of their identity. Therefore, the artworks are portraits of their subjects and are designed to celebrate individual styles, explore identities and provide an alternative to traditional portraits. I invite you to consider and reflect upon the defining portraits presented here.
Sovereign Elevations is on now at Place des Arts in Coquitlam!
Missed the virtual opening of Sovereign Elevations at the Silk Purse in West Vancouver? Watch it now on YouTube! https://youtu.be/V_bU0wDhA3A