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Indian Army: Uniforms, Religious Affiliation, and Personal Names

Randy Bond - 10Apr10 3:54PM

Is there anyway to tell if the members of the 19th Indian Army are Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists or Muslims from their turbans, uniforms, beards, etc? I ask because in assigning personal names to Indian soldiers in my vignettes I want to make sure they are appropriate. I do know that some regiments are listed as Sikhs. Is their an iconography, classification or symbolism related to the styles and colors of the turbans worn by Indian Army units? Any references to this kind of info would be most appreciated.

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1. Bill Hocker - 11Apr10 6:09PM

I have never found any consistent characteristics of Indian Army turbans associated with tribal or religious groups beyond that of the Sikhs (with an inverted pyramid and no kulla - a pointed skullcap). One must try to find a picture of members of that regiment at that particular moment in history to render the turban. The incredible variety of turbans in the Indian army in the early 20th century is accurately shown by Lovett in MacMunn's The Armies of India. The regiments were organized more along tribal lines, Punjabis, Dorgas, Jats, Rajputs, Baluchies, etc, etc. in addition to the Sikhs. The ethnography of these tribal lines, as outlined by MacMunn will make your head spin. But the Lovett paintings are fantastic. In earlier or later eras the turbans would be different.

I came across this wikipedia article on Indian Army regiments. In 1903, at least, there were only two "19th" Regiments, the 19th Bengal Lancers (with a link to one of the Lovett paintings) and the 19th Punjabis (no illustration). Looking at the 19th Punjabis in MacMunn, the Lovett plate has several figures each with a different turban on.
2. Randy Bond - 12Apr10 5:28AM

Thanks Bill. That gives me a good start.


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