James Andrew Broun Ramsay succeeded to the title of 10th Earl of Dalhousie in 1838. Among his appointments were President of the Board of Trade in 1845 and later Governor General of India between 1847 and 1856. This post covered a most eventful period for the sub-continent and particularly for the Punjab. Dalhousie twice set up Sikh puppet administrations to rule over the Punjab, having first taken steps to limit their power and extract considerable reparations. He was a shrewd judge and saw that early annexation would over-stretch his administrative and military powers.
The Punjab was finally annexed in 1849 after the battle of Gujarat, where, according to family legend, these standards were used. This example, along with others sold in the Colstoun House sale at Sotheby's were originally purchased by Lord Dalhousie at the sale of the Lahore toshkhana (Royal Treasury) in around 1830-40. They are described by him as [item] "24 - 3 gold and silver worked flags and [item] 25 - 10 silk flags".
Following the British victory, similar standards were bought back to the United Kingdom. Two examples, one of which also had a representation of the Goddess Durga were published in the Illustrated London News, in the 19th of December 1846 edition commenting that the flags were captured by the British at the Battles of Sobraon and Ferozeshah (illustrated in Ian Heath, The Sikh Army 1799-1849, Oxford, 2005, p. 38). A miniature in the Victoria and Albert Museum, dated to circa 1850-60, depicts Sikh akalies one of whom holds a similar standard to that offered here.
Two very similar standards, though heavily repaired, now hang in Lichfield Cathedral (Heath, op.cit., p.44). A similar example sold in these Rooms, 23 September 2005, lot 118.