A REPORT OF FOREIGN PRESS ON M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI – THE LONDON TIMES 1976 WORLD OF ISLAM FESTIVAL ANALYSIS
Real professional art critics write for leading newspapers, compared to Pakistan, where role of art critics is not based on any merit, but just influences of certain people over other. We call it here “Sifarishi tattus”. Here we give references to an article at the World of Islam Festival in London by Dr James Dickie in 1976, a graduate from universities in art criticism and Islamic history, and gave his professional opinion about the Pakistan artist Chughtai. Our pleasure to list him. Although present whereabouts of Dr James Dickie is not known.
Dr James Dickie
“Thethird response was the way of the Pakistan artist Chughtai, who experienced at first hand all the West had to offer and assimilated some of it. Chughtai career is proof of Islam’s continued vitality. In some respects he excels Bihzad, the Rembrandt of Islamic art. Before Chughtai, Islamic painting had never developed beyond the anecdotal and the episodic, whereas by Chughtai’s brush it became interpretative. Until the emergence of Chughtai, painting had occupied the status of a minor art in Islam….but now as an interpretative art it bid fair to challenge the Christian and the Buddhist civilization. “ (The Times, London 1976)
P.S. Dr Yaqub Zaki, also known as James Dickie, was born in Scotland and is a graduate of the Universities of Glasgow, Barcelona, and Granada. He has taught at the Universities of Manchester, Lancaster and Harvard.
M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI’S DAILY COMPANIONS OF CHILDHOOD – PLAYING FRIENDS FROM MOTHERS SIDE, MERAJ UD DIN (PAA MAJA)
When M.A. Rahman Chughtai died, I was not a relative-oriented person. Yes, we knew some, but we hardly knew others. One reason was that the relatives were mostly from the side of our mothers, and the relative associated with my father, were not from his paternal side at all. Our direct ancestors were small family people. Although we know of some ancestors here and there, the general trend was small families. Mian Salah had two sons, Elahi Baksh (Natha) and Raheem Baksh. Raheem Baksh had just one son and one daughter. Kareem Baksh and Karam Nisa. Karam Nisa was married to Baba Miran Baksh. Kareem Baksh had one son Muhammed Hussain from first wife and three sons from second wife, Chiragh Bibi. That is Abdur Rahman, Abdullah and Abdur Raheem.
Around 1890s we see loss of Raheem Baksh as well as the wife of Kareem Baksh. Kareem Baksh with one son, was not in a position to cope with life alone. A search for a wife had started. The Mimar family was based on Mohalla Chabuk Sawaran. There was a Railway family stationed in their traditional havelli in Rara Tellian, Lahore. Who got the access to the Railway family? One does not know. There was no relation between the two families. Chiragh din was a craftsman in the Railways, as others in his family. He was approached for the second marriage of Mian Kareem Baksh Mimar, as his first wife had died, leaving behind a son, Muhammed Hussain. The marriage was arranged, and Mian Kareem Baksh was married to Chiragh Bibi. Two families which had no relation with each other, were joined together by this marriage. Even if you look at members of the two families, they look different from each other. A new era started from then on.
Meraj-ud-din urf Paa Maja: It was early in the morning, someone rang the bell, and told us that “Paa Maja” had died in his home. This was the time when he used to live in his house in ‘Shahi Mohalla’, and had a working ‘Kharad’ of his own in ‘Paisa Akbar mohalla’. I rushed to inform my father, and saw him stunned with the news. In no time, both the brothers were gone to the house of Paa Maja. And it left me, a young boy, to ponder about the loss of a man, who was even my personal friend. We could recall him on many points. He would be there one day before Basant, to repair our kites, put the ‘tarawan’ on our kites, even test same by partial flying, and instructions for us how to wage kite fights in ‘boo-kata’ matches. Then there were the mechanical problems. We were fanatics about our engineering toys, like the ‘Meccano’, for which clips were always missing. He would try to make new clips for us on his kharad himself. But that was a small part of him. He was literally a fun guy. On any pleasant day, with a blooming weather, he wold turn up and stop everybody from the routine work and proclaim that it was a picnic day. Picnic day meant a day at the canal DEGH, by taking plenty to eat with us, and getting hold of our fishing tackles, and at times even rifle guns for hunting ‘murgabis’. The hunt, whether the flying ducks or the fishes, were cooked there on the spot and eaten, with rotis and nans from nearby tandoors. And all this not in any cars, but just plain tongas to take us there and tongas to bring us back. The picnic was not merely a men gathering, women were included in it fully. It was a family affair.
Initially the fishing tackles were simple strings and hooks, but after his return from England, M.A. Rahman Chughtsi had brought imported tackles from there, and portions of same, we still have even today. We were very afraid of the hooks, and they were not only plenty, but pretty sharp. And we did not even know, how to take them out of the fishes mouth. So our best bet as children was to use empty jam bottles to trap small tadpoles in them.
But the interaction of Meraj-ud-din and Chughtai Sahib was not limited to these encounters. They could play cricket together in Minto Park. They could see movies, dramas, or even dip in the Ravi, when it was not flooded at all. But this relation was a fun relation, and there was deep concern and love for each other. Meraj-ud-din was responsible for one important thing in the life of the artist. In his visit to Europe, M.A. Rahman Chughtai was lonely without end. A new cultural environment was being seen by him. His impressions of his surroundings, he would put in a letter, written to his beloved maternal cousin Meraj-ud-din. Sharing odds and ends literally every day. A bunch of his letters could have been lost, a bunch still with us. The artist had a plan to compile all this in a book form, entitled “Meraj kay nam London say khatoot”. A compilation was given to a local publisher, but the publisher had new political affiliations and never went ahead in printing same. This new group was allergic to Chughtai as well as Pakistan. History stops and starts with behaviour of people.
There was strong bonding between the two cousins. Chughtai Sahib was the maternal cousin of Meraj-ud-din, and no other relation, except love for each other. The first marriage of Chughtai Sahib resulted in the death of a son. The gracious lady had developed womb cancer and could never have a child again. Meraj-ud-din was worried about his maternal cousin. He convinced the artist to consider marriage again. To make this happen, he proposed the hands of a girl in Amritsar, from a Railway family, and a proposal party went there. But the parents refused the hands of the artist. Incidentally in the reception from the girls side was sitting Bhou Din Muhammed, a senior goods clerk in the Railways too. He took a fancy to the artist, and suggested the party to come to his house for other possibilities. The result just be sheer accident a proposal was accepted for Chughtai Sahib, in this new house, and the girl name was Iqbal Bano. But the artist was so attached to the name Kishwar by now, that he renamed his wife as Kishwar Iqbal Bano. The marriage took place, and that story deserves a blog on itself. These personal information are not recorded anywhere, and we do this for actual record for the future. P.S.We had a very nice photograph of Meraj-ud-din but it has been misplaced. So we hunted an old negative and it was full of erasures. Ejaz Sarwar volunteered to photo shop it and he did that. Thank you Ejaz Sarwar USA! Till a better result is obtained, this is the only visual image of Meraj-ud-din, the maternal cousin, available with us. Enjoy!
THE CONCEPT OF KARUNS OF THE WORLD AND OBSESSION WITH WEALTH – THE QURAN TEACHES US WHAT ACCUMULATION DOES TO MINDS OF PEOPLE Even as children we heard references about the despicable nature of Karun’s lust for money. Some people think of him as Hamman of the Pharaohsand others refer to him as the King of Lydia. A reference says:“The Last King of an Anatolian civilization Lydia, CROESUS (known as KARUN in Turkish) is known as the inventor of first user of “coin” and referred as the richest ever man on earth. As the richest mortal in the world, he was 35 years old in 566 BC when he became the King of Lydia.” The strange part is that a portion of his vast treasure was discovered and a bone of contention between the Turkish government and the Metropolitan Museum of arts. But that is not our issue here. Our issue is that when one man or a group of men accumulate the wealth of the world, what happens? In fact nothing good can come out of it, for the Laws of Allah talk about sharing things and distributing what in excess that you have. By taking things which are rightfully others, you commit the greatest sin according to divine laws. The shame of today’s rich people is enormous but as their eyes are blanketed with greed, they cannot perceive the folly themselves. Our own rich people tyrannized others to get to this point. So did the worlds richest people. This treasure will burn their hearts out. With what shame we hear that one percent of the world, owns ninety-nine percent of resources. All the intellectuals muse over it, but can do nothing. For powerful people have the capacity to buy others out. When the richest and powerful turns up into criminal minds, the wrong top the world is multiplied by millions.
So much afraid of the Spirit of Islam, that pervert priests are hired by such lobbies to spread calumny about the way of life, which guarantees happiness and peace all over the world. Not one of these despicable priests talk of finer things of life, dealing with perverse meaningless issues, to confuse anyone’s interest in the Islamic way of life.
Allah tells is not to give up. The strong and mighty on wrong track will eventually fall into their own contrived destruction. Patience and have faith in the Laws of Allah. Forget about burning in hell, the will never see peace on Earth even!
THE TREASURE OF PENCIL SKETCHES OF LEAD SWORD: “IF I LIVE TO EIGHTY YEARS – I CANNOT ACTUALLY COMPLETE MY STARTED WORKS FOR ANOTHER EIGHTY YEARS” Individuals and Societies are inter related to each other. All societies have same kind of people ratio. Intelligent people and totally moronic people. But higher civilizations grasp the compassion for saving their culture by taking care of the icons of people. This is deliberately cultivated among the people. In Western capitals, I have seen ques of people and the long lines perplex me, as to what motivates the people to come to exhibition shows in storm and rain and what so ever climate. You see not only old people, you see young children as well thirsting to catch a glimpse of their culture at first hand. Once upon a time people from villages used to visit Lahore and you would hear them say about Lahore Museum (Ajaib ghar, known as Ajaib Kar) as much as they said about Lahore Zoo (Chiria ghar, known as Chiria Kar). And without a word of knowledge they would look at their civilizations with awe. Today ask a rickshaw wala about Ajaib Ghar and they would not know where to go. Simple for no one has bothered to do any promotion about it. This tradition goes to the momentous Ajaib ul Makulaqat manuscript found in ancient time.
Lahore Chabuk Sawaran was a difficult place to reach, as to the house of M.A. Rahman Chughtai. But people from all over the world went there, and there were people who could quickly guide them to the house. In course of years we at Chughtai museum reached famous as well as unknown travel guides, and we are listed everywhere. It was there in Murray’s Handbooks of Travel, but I saw same in PAN AM travel guide in 1951. Today Lonely Planet, Etude Paris, International Directory of Arts Berlin, all list us.We used to see literally flock of tourists at our house. And we saw them at the museum too. But times are changing. At this time all museums in the world are closed and all are working at home and on line too.
Exceptional people enrich culture with their extraordinary talents. But there has to be some one to take care of the legacy of the artist. In Pakistan the general run of the people are heartless about their culture and their cultural icons. We talk about that all the time, but proverbially “not even a lice scratch their head”. And these are the people who are destined to be zeros even in their life time but will not consider help of any kind to culture. In fact thy seek harm to those who think in those terms. Within our meager resources we do our best, but for how long? In the end the society has to take responsibility and if it does not, it is wiped out of cultural history within no time. We can only not hope but do our best in our life time. We take this opportunity to present you with a few selected pencil sketches of the artist. Obviously he did hundreds and we maintain them. We give an opportunity for visitors to see them but it is not always possible. Enjoy what Chughtai could do with his lead pencil, like a sword on paper. Delicate calligraphic unending line. And subjects a product of his unending creative imagination. The West was ready to kiss his toes, but the artist was not willing to leave his nation. Ideology is as important as life itself. Enjoy!
GHAZNI AND GHOR DIVERSE BUT BOTH ATTACHED TO LAHORE – SULTAN GHIYASUDDIN GHAURI AND SHAHABUDDIN GHAURI – CHANGED THE DESTINY OF ISLAM IN THE THEN HINDUSTAN.
Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi instrumental for the city of Lahore. The Ghauri brothers and the slave Qutubuddin Aibak changed Lahore forever. And not only Lahore but the whole region of India. They are the much hated figures across the divide but they are our heroes. Mind you our Missiles carry name of both persons. Certainly there is a reason for same. And our paid lobbies hate them as much as the enemy. Never read anything about them, only fictional accounts generated by distortion of our history. Certainly Ghazni and Ghor (Firuzkoh) are linked to us.
We came across a manuscript written in the Jamia Masjid Herat in 1166 AH, and the writer is namely Mir Afzal Ahmad, and he writes the previous twelve generations of his direct attachment to Sultan Ghiyasuddin Ghauri, who is buried in the Jamia Masid Herat to this day. Jamia Masjid was made by the Sultan in Herat in 1200 AD, and he was buried there in 1203 AD. Times have come and gone and the mosque changed over time, but the respect for the Sultan stood its time and his grave was left intact by many rulers over the course of time.
The name spreads terror over our enemies, and the way Muslims are being treated today all over the world,requires the brave heart of a Ghauri to undo the wrong perpetuated over time. Allah may have mercy on us!
DIGGING UP THE PAST OF MUGHALS AND GETTING READY FOR SURPRISES – SUPRIYA GANDHI QUEST TO OPEN FESTERING WOUNDS OF DARA SHUKOH
My contact with Dara Shukoh goes back generations (my ancestors worked for him), and there is no doubt that as literally King of Lahore, he was responsible for much aesthetic developments. Being son of extremely conscious aesthetic parents, it was to be expected and he proves that with his choices. But research falls into favoured trap. Inevitably sitting outside in a world which dictates choices, you end up with one kind of view. We collected lots of resource materials on Dara Shukoh. And of course researchers like Supriya Gandhi have access to materials, we cannot even fathom with our meager resources. The money comes out of our own pocket. No institution waves off charges which researchers here cannot even afford. There are two famous published books on Dara Shukoh, but there have been publications in Pakistan too. Caravan Book House took out a book on Dara Shukoh in English. United Publishers took out an Urdu book on the fight between two ideologies. And then of course the Diwan was discovered here, published and made famous. But the most relevant book was the printing of the Jaipur newsletters, which were so important and published in Karachi in 1951 by Yusuf Ali Khan, former librarian of Jaipur Sate Records. We have a copy of the rare book and although it is supposed to be Aurangzeb’s life, it is full of references to Dara Shukoh. A blog is not meant to accommodate all information and we give two links below for anyone to read same from our own blog. The links are:
We took out a book on Dara Shukoh and we sent a copy to Supriya Gandhi by courier, well before her own publication. And when she called here with some friends, we gave them all additional copies of same. It has materials which are nowhere else. It was Supriya’s desire to see some of the research material in real terms. There is a Western disdain for independent research, and the easy ability to cast doubts on resource material they do not have with them. She was at first suspicious of our holdings. I received a reply from her from Delhi and it says:
“It does indeed look like Jahanara’s own handwriting at the end, compared with MSS I have seen in London of her Munis al-arwah and some of her writing held in Aligarh. It would be fascinating to compare this text of the Munis with the published version or the British Library copy to see if there are any differences. For a study, of course one would need a full set of images, and then I could do an article. A wonderful find! Thanks for passing this along. “
Obviously we are not milk suckling babies in this harsh world. Our blood and tears are there in our passion for research. My uncle Dr Abdullah Chaghatai did his PHD on Taj Mahal from Paris in 1938. Very few references are there for researchers for this epic work. Mika Natif has pointed out the difference between the Mughals and Occidental. We knew that all the time. Our own book on Dara Shukoh is worthy of being read, with so many things of original research. And yet western scholarship disregards it. A world famous art library refused to possess it, when a number of my books were already there in their holdings. .
Why Dara Shukoh never became an Emperor? Because he did not have the ability to do so. Constant failure of administrative perception, unbridled arrogance with others, and a brain incapable of planning and dealing with situations. He was not mixing Islam with Hinduism, he was mixing anti-Quranic thoughts with other codes of life. In fact he said that the Quran cannot be understood without reading the Hindu texts. To deal with such heresy, a person like Aurangzeb was not required, the people alone sufficed. Shah Jahan’s patronage was keeping Dara alive. Once removed he was not capable of anything. A so called emperor prospective, goes on a mission to capture Kandahar for his father, with a group of narcotic magicians. Casting spells was not the job of Muslim or Mughal Generals. Their job was valour and their job was harmony with their soldiers. In his typical arrogance Dara Shukoh put distances between himself and his army. The results were obvious. What kind of strategy and what kind of IQ sees cities fall through spells? One magician regularly required boys for intercourse to caste his spell. The magician wanted that ‘if this master could be provided with a homosexual boy, three year old wine and certain other requirements, he would summon genies for help by writing secret formulas with the blood of the boy mixed with wine’, how pathetic you can get? Good riddance, otherwise today’s world would be in even greater despair.
Lobbies promote heretics as we see all around the world. For monetary benefits, two timing so called scholars often sell their souls. We have seen how actually truth gets trampled. Dara Shukoh and Aurangzeb were not merely blood brothers but representative of two different ideologies. It demonstrates that the two nation theory is not based on blood relations but refers to matters related to belief actually. Supriya Gandhi has worked very hard to write this book on Dara Shukoh. We appreciate her work, and knows that she understands all this well. We wish her well too! There is even a world of difference between her direct ancestor and the moronic tea seller of India.
CAUGHT BETWEEN THE RACE FOR CULTURAL PROPAGATION OF PAKISTAN – USA AND USSR VYING FOR REAL ATTENTION OF PRESIDENT ZIA UL HAQUE
It is not often that phone calls from the President house are received, and the Military Secretary bent upon the idea of the President inaugurating a Chughtai’s anniversary show at Chughtai Museum and taking an exhibition of Chughtai to USA. The eagerness of President Zia ul Haque was so unsettling. He had visited the USA and made an offer to the Metropolitan Museum in New York for a room devoted to Pakistani Art. Stuart Cary Welch was in charge there (and our guest here the same year in 1981 at my personal invitation), and had his own plans. He plainly said that the museum is not a hotel where you can hire rooms, even when the offer of a million dollars was made by the Pakistani President. Amongst things he wanted was not new things. He had eyes for an inscription from the Maryiam Zamani mosque in Lahore, a pavilion from Shalimar Gardens and other exotic things. There was a meeting in Lahore at Hilton hotel, attended by B.A. Qureshi, and architect Ms Yasmeen Lari amongst others. I waited outside in the parking lot, and Stuart Cary Welch wasted no time with these committees. In moments he was outside and we went to the mausoleum of Emperor Jahangeer. In Islamabad President Zia ul Haque presented an expensive carpet to the American scholar, and his wife.
The Russian Ambassador V. Smirnov wanted a Chughtai’s show in Moscow. The Cultural Secretary Masood Nabi Noor asked me to say NO to him. USSR was not being favoured at that time. But I was in mood to take blame for something that was not even my idea. V. Smirnov was very persistent and was making offer of ‘wine and girls’ to all involved. I was stunned with his non-diplomatic moves. The Pakistani bureaucracy planned a show of Chughtai Art at Hirshhorn Museum in USA. I was asked for cooperation. But I gave my own terms. I did not trust the bureaucratic management and said that I will take the paintings myself to Washington (in biting snow cold city), and when the show was over, will bring them back myself. I was refused as no one was willing to guarantee me the safety of the works. Already a PNCA official had disappeared with probably 5000 US $ as well as collection of paintings of PNCA. So some works were collected for that show, the Pakistani Art show at Hirshhorn Museum. It had two very average Chughtais in it.
The show was held and seen, and the art critic of Washington Times, with great artistic background, and love for art (she would get involved with art works), wrote on that exhibition. That is Ms Jane Addams. She wrote the following:
“All contemporary painters of Pakistan owe a debt to A.R. Chughtai and his two watercolours are the masterpieces of the exhibition. He is the Matisse of Pakistani art, an artist who stoutly maintained his links with the style and themes of Mughal Art, inspite of the British Imperial presence, but who used his knowledge of Degas and Manet to give a western compositional solidarity to his paintings. Unfortunately most of the other figurative artists of the show fall short of Chughtai’s genius.” (Washington Times report of the show at Hirshhorn, 1982)
It was not a feather in their cap, it was assertion of our identity.Ms Jane Addams Allen was famous for her Chicago art scene, having engendered the magazine “The New Art Examiner” with her later husband Derek Guthrie, another important artist himself. The Washington Times wrote her obituary in this way:”Known for her graceful writing style, encyclopedic knowledge of art history and a gentle but firm approach to criticism, Miss Allen won numerous national journalism awards during her career. ““In the presence of art, Jane Addams Allen grows luminous,” wrote Sophy Burnham in a 1987 Museum & Arts Washington profile. “Her writing has a sweetness and clarity. She is in love with art.” Ms Jane Addams Allen had even lectured at some universities on art criticism. Her death on 31st January, 2004, left a void on the American art scene of able pioneers of art criticism. P.S.We are grateful to Ms Sarah McQuaid folk singer for providing us with a photograph of her mother. Thank you Sarah for your cooperation! You made this over due blog happen.
PROPOSAL FROM AMERICAN FEDERATION OF ARTS WASHINGTON DC – POST MARKED 31ST JANUARY, 1947, EIGHT MONTHS BEFORE PAKISTAN
Archives record things long forgotten. American Federation of Arts was a society made in 1909 to first promote American art and then later to invite exhibitions from various other countries. They have been doing it from more than 100 years. In 1947 before the inception of Pakistan, a proposal was received by Chughtai artist for some sort of art cooperation. This was received at his traditional house in Chabuk Sawaran, at that time referral as in India. Sending by Air Mail, meant it was a time sensitive delivery. This is a rare envelope for the society left Barr building long time ago.
What was the proposal? Not found yet. But certainly the artist was important enough in USA to receive a letter from this society. M.A. Rahman Chughtai had been displayed at various American institutions in 1931, due to activity of his promoter, Dr James Cousins. We have already taken out a blog on same. The tit bit here is an official American contact, as this society was patronized by President Theodore Roosevelt himself. It was in 1951 that Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan had gifted a painting of Chughtai artist to President Truman at a state ceremony. Records lead us to the truth of history.
SHARING A WONDERFUL ARTICLE ON CORONA AND THE QURAN
WITH DUE THANKS DR EJAZ RASOOL OF GLASGOW. MUST READ!
No one has touched the Corona pandemic with the dictates of the Holy Quran itself. Dr Ejaz Rasool has written an excellent article on same, which is an objective analysis but still misses no point. We usually do not share articles of others, but this is worth reading by all. We hope it opens discussion and makes us think and ponder as instructed by the Quran itself. Thank you Dr Ejaz Rasool!
Is there a grand plan behind this all? Our job is to remain positive, and face the consequences with true grit. Things pass, nothing remains the same. Bad times will go and hopefully will be replaced by better ones. Keep yourself with your chin high!
Nawab hassań yar jung is my grand father.I’m Muneeb uddin khan son of Aahmad uddin khan.
We found out a book published in Karachi in 1978, thirty years after the exhibition in Hyderabad in 1948. Hassan Yar Jang gave all his documents to a friend Abdur Rauf Arooj, and he compiled the book of memories. A chapter is devoted o M.A. Rahman Chughtai too. We have already written about Hyderabad in a previous blog. Suffice to say that not only are there physical links between the two states, but more than ever Ideological links. East Pakistan was crushed under a conspiracy and today everything is openly said how through planned conspiracy the malignancy was done. Similarly Hyderabad’s link with Pakistan was forcibly snatched and in such places, it is evident how they remember the golden rules of yesterday, as compared to the hotch potch rulings of today.
Illiterate and uncivilized leadership anywhere cannot do much for anyone, public or the general run of the country. The start of Nawab Hassan Yar Jang comes from the PAIGAH family, a family only second to the family of Nizam of Hyderabad himself. A lot of Hyderabadi brethren migrated to Pakistan, and we encountered many families, mostly in Karachi. Others migrated abroad, no longer content to be in their country. Even today many Hyderabadis visits us. Our advice be strong and preserve your culture well. Do not forget your past. Perhaps a time will come for Hyderabad to be Hyderabad again!