Kalgi Sarpech: Turban Ornament

Sarpech: Ornament for the Turban

The sarpech is a compound of two words, namely sar literally meaning `head` and pech, referring to a feather. As an ornament, although it was flat, it was shaped like a single vertical feather, with a curved tip. Crafted from metal, it was set with gems on the obverse side. Sometimes, even the reverse was elaborately enamelled or decorated with precious stones. It was worn by tucking its gold stem, usually called the quill, into the folds of the turban.

Sarpech is the proud and prized ornament that used to adorn Turbans in all the princely states of India. It turned out to be as a mark of high distinction among the royals. They appear quite often in the court of Nizam and the Sikh court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.A Sarpech was earned or conferred by Emperor or king for great deeds, service and acts of bravery. Obviously, not everyone was entitled to wear it, associated as it was with princes and others.

As Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1857, no Indian Prince was supposed to adorn his Turban or head with a crown, and this perhaps explains the emergence of Sarpech as main head ornament that had its own style transmitting the regality.

It has a fixed shape with certain variations in detail and materials. They are seen in Indian paintings of the times.

Sometimes the Sarpech was worn with a sar patti.The broad sarpatti contains several pieces beautifully hinged together for smooth tying and secured with strings and tassels round the head.What actually made it flamboyant and enhanced its beauty was the vertical piece that rises from the centre of the band in the form of a Kalghi inclining at the top towards one direction and ended generally with a pearl pendant from it.

This beautiful crafted ornament set with matching diamonds gives a feeling of richness that could happen only in India of the Maharajas.