All children are born innocent. The Grace of Allah creates new human life. Fresh and beautiful, the future is there to be determined by ecological factors. All parents try to teach their children the value of truth but the child learns from the life of their parents itself. Parents who lie in their life cannot teach their children the value of truth. Truth remains the domain of truthful families.
Soldiers go through their training with acute discipline and this discipline teaches them the truth. Faced with matters of life and death, truth is the need of their lives, both personal as well as professional. On every day duty or on the front, without truth the future of life is not there. And their parents as well as children raise their chest high with pride at the spirit of their children.
Politicians are a separate breed altogether. Deprivated children of love and attention, they are defiant from day one, and they get away with it all, by lying all the time. By the time they grow up, they have become born liars, expert in fooling everybody, by twisting and turning the truth, and making mockery of life. Pragmatic approach becomes the way of Nicholas Machiavelli. Our Pakistani politicians can even teach the Prince of Machiavelli some new tricks, for that man suggested some face saving tactics, here we have literally faceless people, picking up any face they like to the extent, that they cannot even recognize their own face.
So believe not politicians, believe in our soldiers! Bad times are coming. Good ones will not be far away! Only our Army will deliver the goods!
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
LACK OF DEPICTION OF MALE GENITALS IN ART
The Subtle aspect of Fine Arts
Different cultures carry different attitudes towards Art and different attitudes in Art are reflective of their approach to sense and sensibility. Cultures like India, Africa and Japan have heavy emphasis on depiction of Male nudity in their Art forms but the Judeo-Christian-Muslim attitudes were totally different from other societies. The male genital is hardly shown in European tradition and when it is shown in some sculpture, there is no emphasis on the genital itself. It is either erased or shown in a very minor and insignificant way. Sir Kenneth Clarke discusses this extensively in his study of the nude in art history. Similarly in other traditions. One odd view we see all the time is boys urinating water in form of fountains spread all over ancient Europe. Entering museums and exiting from them, we find this urination process a fun tactic for those people. Similarly drinking water fountains have similar antecedents, which to our aesthetic is not acceptable at all.
Sexual display in Western Art is a more modern phenomena and when you enter Tate Gallery London and you see huge portraits of sexual nature, it is easy to get embarrassed or rude shock at such vulgar displays. Similar display can be seen in Shakir Ali Museum too. But vulgarity is now no longer a neutral or passive word. Vulgarity is a set of choices related to morals and ethics and the line between good and bad has not only diminished but is erased in the modern scenario of times.
In Islamic culture where artists depicted everything, again the emphasis has never been on male genitals. We hardly see their depiction except perhaps in TIB or medical treatises. Whereas female nudity has been depicted in Pakistani Art, male nudity has never been the point. Sadequain became an exception with his study of male female poses of sexual nature, and he was heavily criticized for those portrayals. Another male nude artist is Ms Lala Hayat, who has held exhibitions of her male nude subjects. One of her big fans was Asad Salahuddin. But even Lala does not draw the genitals in her nude sketches. There are aesthetic restraints in our culture and the same are followed not merely by compulsion but also as an act of tradition, and social norms. Internalized society is the conscience of the times.
THE EGERTON CONNECTION
CONSTRUCTION WORK IN LAHORE
The insight of the British administration
There is a busy road in Lahore called Egerton road. No one even remembers who Egerton actually was in Lahore. In biographical data of British officers, we read a lot about Robert Eyles Egerton and his aristocratic background. But few may know that he was responsible for a lot of construction in Lahore, including the Railway Station and the New Delhi Gate Lahore.
The job was being done under Mian Muhammed Sultan Contractor but the person who was actually doing it was namely Raheem Baksh Mimar. R.E. Egerton was at that time Commissioner Lahore. Later he became Governor of the Punjab too. In 1861 this is what he wrote on a certificate for Raheem Baksh Mimar:
“Raheem Baksh also known as Heemoo is in the employ of Md. Sultan, the contractor. He is an excellent Mistree and appreciates the work on which he is employed. I have known him for some years and has always been engaged on important works.”
This photograph was made in Murree by John Burke, who was having a studio in Lahore at that time. Advertisements for photographs used to appear in the Civil and Military Gazette Lahore (newspaper). Strange that in our National Archives we see no photograph of Governor Egerton. He seems to have gone into oblivion. There was a portrait of him in Old Gymkhana around 100 years ago but disappeared with time. Even British records have very little representation of him; although his name does appear in some WHO WHO directories. We know more about him too.
In any case it is good that he is remembered with the name of a road named fer him. Obviously our Slaves won’t change this name ever, although all the Muslim names are getting obliterated with time and obsequiousness of our people to the great Raj.
MIR JAFFERS OF ART
INDIAN INFILTRATION OF ART IN PAKISTAN
Art and artists on Indian payroll
M.A. Rahman Chughtai was an exceptional man. He loved his country long before the country even came into being. In 1938 artists, critics as well as his loving admirers were convincing him to stay back in London and not going back to Indian region. The potential of great success was promised to him. It was possible for him to have all kinds of future there but without his country, he felt his life was meaningless. He came back and created a storm in the history of art in Pakistan.
This was obviously resented by foreign lobbies. Pakistan inherited a person who was termed as the “GREATEST LIVING ARTIST OF INDIA” in 1946 by Bombay Times. The object from day one was to bring him down. Much loved by Quaid-e-Azam and Dr Allama Iqbal, the artist was heavily patronized by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, and the PM of Pakistan used to take the artist to the airport to receive incoming foreign guests as part of his team of Ministers. But at that time speaking against Chughtai was like treason and no one dared to do the same. The exhibition at Alhamra in 1949 and Governor General Khawaja Nazimuddin was all praise for him. But jumping forward to 1952, when Governor General Ghulam Muhammed inaugurated his exhibition in Karachi, the speech written by the speech writers (and we know who wrote the speech) talked of being forward looking and leaving our art legacy behind. Governor General Ghulam Muhammed looked stupid in front of the journalists as well as people when he saw the subjects of the works at display, as the speech writer had made a nincompoop of him.
Field Marshal Ayub Khan was a big fan of the artist and visited his home in 1959, and later inaugurated many shows of the artist. The show in 1968 of AMAL E CHUGHTAI was the greatest, when the President presented a GIFT OF TWO LAKH RUPEES to the artist for the publication of Iqballian dream.
In 1950s foreign lobbies put the country on the Western bandwagon, and scarecrow artists started coming into Pakistan from India mainly as well as other places. Some flourished French beards and pipes in their mouths and spoke of PICASSO RENAISSANCE. Other alcoholics reveled in cut necks and dripping blood as imagery. Rootless, without Ideology, these mongrels were like those dogs who were neither of the home nor of the ghat (washing place) of the dhobi (washerman). A famous saying of here not without reason. Suddenly the people were cut of from art and culture in one sweep, for this new wave of art, engendered with money and use of media, had no sense or common sense for anyone here. VIPS could not differenciate mud on the canvas from a Master piece. The Ideology was under attack. Sensitivity of art became alien for the masses for they had no relation to borrowed art from other worlds.
I wish I could take names and expose these philistines (bastards and bitches) who just for material gain could put their country at stake. Indeed they were the Mir Jaffers and Mir Sadiqs of Art, and they are very much here. Regularly going abroad as well as to India, they put a question mark on any patriotic activity and hail the literal shit of Pakistan as Fine Arts. Who can stop them? They think once Pakistan is finished, they will be well received in India.
TUM APNI KOM KAY NAHI HAMARI KOM KAY KEYA BANO GAI. It looks so old and like a stereotype but it is all very much true. Mr Jaffer’s children are still alive. Recently the grave of Mir Sadiq has been discovered in a waqf property of India. The graves of Mir Jaffers in Art of Pakistan will remind us of the great traitor of all times, like Judas and Brutus as well as others. It is the hero who survives intact in history and M.A. Rahman Chughtai thought in terms of Tipu Sultan that one day of a lion is better than 100 days of a Jackal. Allah bless you, Chughtai! You did well for your country and will continue to do so through Art that reflects the Ideology of Pakistan. An Ideology not merely of past but a blend of past, present and future, with innovations at every stage of life. The Quran with each scientific discovery becomes all new for us. We learn our lesson from the Divine revelations of life. Pakistan the most progressive Muslim Nation of the World.
THE FIRST PAKISTANI PAINTER IN USA
M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI 1929 AND 1930
DR JAMES COUSIN’S TOUR IN USA
The book Murraqqa e Chughtai (illustrating Mirza Ghalib’s verses for the first time) created great waves in India and then in Europe. USA was no exception. The book was reviewed in the magazine CREATIVE ARTS NEW YORK in 1928. The artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai was introduced to an American crowd of art lovers. As this was not enough, the famous scholar Dr James Cousin went on a tour to the USA in 1929 and again in 1930. His visit was accompanied by an exhibition of paintings of SIX LEADING INDIAN PAINTERS of that time. M.A. Rahman Chughtai was one of them and the only Muslim painter represented in the USA. The reviews were spontaneous, and we present some of them. The Women City Club of San Francisco found the works inspirational to the Americans.
Six painters were mainly represented in various American cities but the subject matter of five leading painters and the subject matter of the sixth one was different and there and then spoke in visual terms, which volumes of words could not express, the distinction between two nations. The two nation theory as being advocated by philosophers like Dr Allama Iqbal could be seen in visual terms in the Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai.
Americans love Art. Americans have loved the Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai, and there is plenty of the relation between the artist and the USA, but here the matter is not about Chughtai Art after 1947. Here the matter is about Chughtai Art before the inception of Pakistan itself.
And there we have the tale of the two Murraqqa prints printed by MAX JAFFE OF AUSTRIA. The two, namely ‘Desert in bloom’ and ‘Serenade’ , became the rage in USA. One could see them in many American homes, in American night clubs as well as restaurants. One even saw them in some movies as well as TV seasons. They became so legendary that the owners did not even know that they were made by a Pakistani painter. It was the stuff of dreams. Some time back an Israeli lady wrote to us that the same hung in their home in Israel Palestine ages ago. The same also hung at important institutions as well as governmental offices and royal palaces. The mythical Chughtai was born with these two everywhere.
From 1947 the contacts with Americans became very extensive but that is another story and we will take it up in another blog.
CONSPIRACY AGAINST IDEOLOGY BUILDERS
CONDOLENCES ISSUE OF M A RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
The first episode of Chughtai Museum
Compared to politicians, artists are there forever. The greater the Masters, the greater their continuity in the life on earth. That is why when bad things happen to artists, generally the leaders are supposed to listen to the wrongs being done to the segment of society which makes that ideology. The death of an artist is a catastrophe for any Nation. Leaders condole death of great artists as a matter of basic right of them.
M. A. Rahman Chughtai, the greatest Muslim Artist of the 20th century (western critics rating) died on 17th January, 1975. It was his right that his death should have been condoled by the President, Prime Minister, Governors, Chief Ministers and others. Prime Minister was out of the country and came back that night. He held a meeting at PM House about Chughtai. Faiz Ahmad Faiz was there as an adviser as well as Hanif Ramay. It was decided to keep a low profile. The result the death of the artist was not condoled by the stooge Fazal Elahi Chaudry, nor by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, as matter of state policy. The result nobody else did at federal level.
Who condoled on the Pakistani level? Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, the Education Minister, who led a plan for the encirclement of family of the artist later on. Governor Punjab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi and Hanif Ramay the Chief Minister of Punjab. Chief Minister of Punjab Hanif Ramay to satisfy the media came to the house of the artist to offer Fateha on the second day. There were his own people to receive him. He never met the wife nor the son of the artist. It was to be a low key affair. Startling by world standards. An unusual condolence came from the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmeer, Sardar bdul Qayyum, a stalwart who understood all this well. We were very grateful to him.
But then a new phenomena came into motion. Dr Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General UNO New York condoled the death of the artist (three of Chughtai’s works are at the UNO to this day). Queen Elizabeth II who was a collector of Chughtai art herself. The Prime Minister of India, Ms Indira Gandhi, who knew Chughtai from childhood as Jawaharlal Nehru was a great fan of the artist. President Walter Scheel of Germany, who again knew the artist well. Vice President Nelson A Rockefeller who and his wife had collected Chughtai Art from decades before and so on and so forth. Indeed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was acutely embarrassed for he was so adept at foreign relations, that these condolences unsettled his mind. Begum Nusrat Bhutto was quick to invite the artist’s son to the Prime Ministers House Rawalpindi for conference on issues. The ball was rolling. Destruction was the ultimate aim.
The Chughtai family said simply ONE THING. You did not bother to even condole his death, how can you put him on scale of a NATIONAL ISSUE? His body was buried in amanat. No one wanted to give an official place for his burial. The maltreatment had become exceptional. Rage was on. PNCA was told that if you want the Chughtai cake, you got to have all of it. You cannot eat the piece of your desire only.
JOKE OF THE YEAR:
For a grant of Rs 1000 per month to the family, the family was asked to donate the museum as well as all the art treasures to the Government of Punjab. HA HA HA or CURSE YOU CURSE YOU OR CURSE YOU is better, for the IQ of governmental mind.
NO LONGER ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE
ENGLISH POODLES IN LOVE WITH PRESIDENTS
LAHORE ABOUT TO HOST MOST ADVANCED SPY CENTER
All the stuff that makes up James Bond is coming to Lahore. But espionage has changed in our century. Now the cool stuff is no more. Nor the hot stuff. Only the stupid stuff is left. The aim mutual destruction of the world. And what spurs it? Not the National Security. Just the NEO CONS version of PURE GREED.
We all know what happens in the world? Media wars are the rage of the modern world. Even James Bond was pitted against a Media King in one of the charades of life.
Politicians who have no stake in the future of Pakistan specifically allow such activities with full of love for their Masters. One can hear them sing FROM PAKISTAN WITH LOVE all the time by crushing all the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Their souls have no room for shame for they sold their souls long ago.
All the chatter of Pakistan is going to be on record. Massive computer jobs will be created as well as room for translators, while computers pick up words from conversations, key words, which will supposed to hit a hammer on the head of all with diverse views. No one is going to be allowed to bark, or for that matter sing. Much robotic banter would be allowed. The world predicted by analysts long ago is going to be here in full spread.
Will we be crushed? Will we survive? We are told that those who dig graves for others, are actually digging their own graves. Will we see such people buried in response too? Who knows? One thing we know, we will continue to believe in Allah, and we will all be prepared to die for Allah. Straight to heaven, promises the Quran. For us it matters more, that we acquit ourselves well.
SIR HENRY LAWRENCE AND POSSESSION OF LAHORE
CRITICAL CHANGES AND MULTIPLE MURDERS
Sikh to British rule over Punjab
Three brothers, John Lawrence, Henry Lawrence and G. Lawrence, and their association with the Punjab. At a durbar in Lahore, the Governor General John Lawrence addressed the native Princes in Persian/Urdu language. Remarkable? All three brothers knew Punjab as the back of their hands and were instrumental in the British policy making here. One of them wanted the Sikh rule to continue, while others were in favour of British possession of Punjab. Henry Lawrence even submitted his resignation against the British policy here.
There is so much material on the Lawrences that books were written and books could be written but for us to repeat the obvious, is not the aim of our writing. We like to present fresh information wherever possible and we are certain that on our blog you will find things you will find nowhere else. That is why we like what we write,. We love Lahore, and we love Punjab, but we are not parochials. We are Pakistanis in letter and spirit. We speak Punjabi but we are happy with Urdu as our National language. We do not carry prejudices on our back. For us all Muslims are one and the same thing. We are Pakistan.
Here we present two images of the Lawrences, rarely seen, and one never on internet and never published. It is by Imam Baksh Lahori, and we will write about Imam Baksh Lahori in the near future. Till then, enjoy one of his rarest work of Lawrence on horseback. Well done!
POLISHING MIRRORS IN LAND OF BLIND PEOPLE
M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI’S ASSERTIONS ABOUT ART
Exposure to Art hurts the common man more than it helps him
Absolute disappointment was in the air. The opening of the Lahore Museum as well as the Mayo School of Arts had revealed an inherent weakness here. Somehow or the other the aesthetic sense was not there at all. The visitors to Lahore Museum did not know what to look at and how to look at Art itself. Nobody wanted to send their working children to Mayo School of Arts. John Lockwood Kipling was in big trouble. Inducements were given for enrollment n college and when even that did not work, Kipling Sahib hired children of prostitutes in the Hira Mandi to attend school. This is a documentary fact about art at that time. Lahore Museum published a small booklet which was used for decades there and it was entitled ‘How to look at Art?’ The Dev Samaj founder Brahman Dewtva was teaching Art at Government College Lahore as a Drawing Master. English teachers were there at the Central Training School of teachers. The English recognized that most of the Indian audience were literally DANGARS about art, and ‘dangar’ meant literally ‘like animals’.
This takes us back thousands of years when the Central Asian marched into India. Obsessed with wall painting related to their Buddhist culture, the finest paintings were being made in Central Asian and on the Silk route to China, where they still exist on walls of ancient caves. Ajanta was the first revelation of paintings in this God forsaken region. And after Ajanta there was no painting in the region for something like 800 years. The armies of China and Mongolia spread the art again. The Muslims brought their own version of painting into the region. The Mughals excelled in this art to all counts. Not only did they excel in it, they created the art into their Hindu subjects, who were quick to learn an art which was alien to their own tradition.
The lack of aesthetic sense is even literally there today. We do not know how to look at Art. We have no patience that Art requires for analysis. We have no patience to stop at traffic lights, for all the time we are trying to enter gaps and holes in the traffic. So how can we have any patience for viewing Art in general? The VIPS of our life are senseless about Art, not having the faintest sense for its intricacy. Malik Shamas, one of the foremost art critics of Pakistan, once said that although we have acute sense for poetry and can interpret complex verses easily, we have not even a basic cue about Art.
The task before M.A. Rahman Chughtai was not only to create Art or collect Art, but also generate in people a love for Art. For that he did whatever he could. He wrote articles, he addressed people in functions as well as on radio, took out magazines in local language and promoted Art at all spheres. He imposed on writers and scholars to have dustcovers for their books designed by him, to inculcate aesthetics in people. Today the situation should have been better.
When the Government of Pakistan forsakes Art and Culture, it was not possible for it to go forward. Have we ever heard of a Government sponsored show in Pakistan or abroad? Have we ever heard of the Government buying some Art works of poor artists? Not at all. Have we not heard of land grabbing activities of both Federal as well as provincial governments of places related to the Arts. We are one example ourselves. But that is a story for another time, another place.