A LITTLE KNOWN CENSUS OF LAHORE 1850 AD
AMAZING FIGURES OF THAT TIME
Revelations otherwise not possible
The British took over Lahore formally in 1849 AD. In 1850 AD Ayodia Prashad was the Tehseeldar of Lahore and was asked to conduct a detailed census of the city. It is not for us to state every fact and figure of the census but some facts are very interesting. For instance:
Total population of Lahore around 82,000 only.
Total Income of Lahore One Lakh, thirty one thousand, nine hundred and sixty-six Rupees only.
Total Muslims 46,695 only.
Total Hindus 32,109 only.
Total Sikhs 2501 (And some people think of it as a Sikh city).
Hardly no Christians, Parsees, Buddhists, or even any Bengallis. Few Europeans only.
Total shops in city 28,694 only.
Total elephants 54.
Total camels 318 only.
Total horses 1595 only.
Many Professions represented, including Painters and Architects.
Total Madarassa (schools) 143 teaching mostly Arabic and Persian, and that does not include hundreds of basic educational wings attached to mosques. Even Hindus and Sikhs were learning Persian and Arabic in these schools.
Prostitution spread all over city, but mainly Anarkali area. No Hira Mandi in operation.
A very interesting incident is narrated of a Prostitute in Anarkali singing a song of having no access to her lover. A British sepoy was passing who knew the local language too, and went up to her house, to tell her not to mourn non access to her lover. There were many means for communication. She could send a letter by post, use the telegraph near the Railway Station or go to her lover in actual terms. The people in the bazaar of Anarkali burst out in laughter, for the Sepoy had not realized that the song was an advertisement to lure or seduce some passerby and the sepoy did not get the actual terms. Historical incidents have their funny aspects too.
The number of Muslims prove the fact that Lahore in its span of more than a thousand years was a Muslim city and Muslim Culture predominated here. More on that later.
WEST OWES MANY THINGS TO ISLAM
THE STORY OF RAPUNZEL IS ONE OF THEM
Amazing story of Rudabha and Zaal
The world of fairy tales is not a new world. Today Walt Disney’s world gives global child access to modernized versions of fairy tales. Good and well done! Once upon a time the same was done by Qissas of Alif Laila or the Tales of one thousand and one nights. Without going into the details, those short stories are still a part of our daily lore. Even today we recognize characters like Ali Baba, Alladdin, and Sinbad as coming from these Islamic sources of Alif Laila. However many are still unknown to us.
Take the much loved story of RAPUNZEL, the trapped Princess in a tower with long tresses which she lowers for her lover Prince to get up to her. We seen Walt Disney’s version as well as many others. Fairy tale books are full of the same stories. And we do realize that the famous German Grimm brothers twisted these fairy stories. The Rapunzel story they first wrote in 1812 and revised it till 1857. Where did they get the story? Bards who sung these stories on the street. We are told of the story of PETROSINELLA that was written by Giambattista Basille in 1634, and later revised by Charllote Caumont in 1697-98.
Okay but what was the origin of these stories even way back. A loose story plot is traced to the history of SAINT BARBARA in Izmir Turkey, but that is just a loose story. Rapunzel the fairy tale has much in common with the story of RUDABHA AND ZAAL , narrated in poem by the great poet Firdausi at the request and at the court of Sulran Mahmud Ghaznavi, a thousand years ago. It was also illustrated at Akbar’s court in Lahore and we present a miniature of the climbing of Zaal to Rudabha through the use of her long hair. Yes, enjoy Rapunzel, and be more proud, that it belongs to Islamic sources and the great epic of all times the SHANAMA OF FIRDAUSI. And in some ways Lahore is also part of it.
MORE ON USTAD BEHZAD LAHORI
DARAB NAMAH MANUSCRIPT
Tracing Lahori links
The Darab namah in the archives of a leading museum in England contains the remnants of 200 paintings. Although considered on a smaller scale than a Royal work, it is actually an attempt by STUDENTS OF THE MUSSSAVARI KHANA AT LAHORE. This is illustrated b a notation on the manuscript of a painting by Behzad Lahori, that it was corrected by Ustad Khawaja Abdul Samad (his father) of Lahore. The authorities speak of the many details of the manuscript and they say:
“The tales of Darab: a medieval Persian prose romance
One of the manuscripts we have recently digitised is the Dārābnāmah, an illustrated prose romance describing the adventures of the Persian King Darab, son of Bahman, and Alexander the Great, originally composed in the 12th century by Muhammad ibn Hasan Abu Tahir Tarsusi. Our copy unfortunately only contains the first part of the epic, ending with the story of the Macedonian princess Nahid, Darab’s newly-wedded bride and the future mother of Alexander the Great, being returned unwanted (she had bad breath) but pregnant to her father Faylaqus (Philip of Macedon).
Our copy was probably completed between 1580 and 1585 for the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Classed as ‘Grade Two’ in the Mughal imperial library, it originally contained at least 200 paintings, and presumably there was also a second volume. By 1828, probably looted or sold, it belonged to the Nawabs of Awadh whose seals are stamped on the final leaf. When the British Museum purchased it from Quaritch in 1893, there were only 157 paintings and many leaves, including the colophon, were missing.”
Now we know that Emperor Akbar was in Lahore in the year attributed to the manuscript and the Mussavari Khana was in full swing. Students were being trained and the many artists working on a lower standard copy does not mean anything else but that it was an attempt by the newly recruited students at Lahore to show their learning process acquired under the great Master Khawajah Abdul Samad. What can be more clear than that? The assertion is more clear when we find at least two painters of the manuscript calling themselves Lahori itself. In simple terms the Manuscript was done in Lahore by all the students who were working in Lahore under the great Master. Most of them, these students, would be working in the Lahore Fort but living in the inner city itself, the birth place of Mughal painting.
We personally note something very strange. The composition of the work (illustrated) has a background composition which is very much like the background handling in the Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai. There is Chughtai in the work in muted form. How did that happen? It was the signal of Lahore to develop its own traits compositions and momentos in art. That the son of Lahore, M.A Rahman Chughtai inherited traits of Ustad Behzad of Lahore is self evident in our history.
M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI AND SAADAT HASSAN MANTO
POLES APART IN THOUGHT AND YET TOGETHER
The Story of a trial in Lahore
There was hardly anyone in the art or literature field in the region who was not in contact with M.A. Rahman Chughtai. But his contact with Saadat Hassan Manto was of a different kind. My uncle Abdur Raheem Chughtai used to tell me the stories in detail. Late evening the voice of Manto would reverberate in the gali (small lane) of his Chabuk Sawaran house. Abdur Rahman Chughtai used to ask his brother, who is it? Abdur Raheem used to reply it is Manto again, asking for his usual Ten rupees. Abdur Rahman was kind at heart and used to say he is under pressure right now with his addiction issues. Go give him the Ten rupees. And the Ten rupees used to be given. It was the kindness of Abdur Rahman Chughtai which used to help Manto when he was starved from his alcohol addiction. And this is a hundred percent fact.
Of course Saadat Hassan Manto wrote on Sex and Sexual matters (at times about incest too), but writers of that time thought nothing of it. And that was no issue with Abdur Rahman Chughtai as to what Manto wrote. For him and in his views, he was a writer and a writer needed to be defended all the time. A case was initiated in court against Manto and he was arrested for the same. A trial began. Few came forward to help Manto. It was Abdur Rahman Chughtai who appeared in the Court (much to annoyance of many) and bailed him out and satisfied the judge that Manto was an honourable citizen of the country. And all this on record and acknowledged by Manto himself.
Of course Manto acknowledged many things as he too admits that PERVERSION is part of his character. We publish an excerpt from his writings where he talks of this PERVERTED aspect of his life. But we have no objection to same, and it is none of our business. The freedom of a writer needs to be guaranteed in any society. But when the freedom is taken too far, then chaos descend in the society.
The much hyped TOBA TEK SINGH is a story in question of two mental asylums on both sides of the divided geography due to the Two Nation Drive in India and Pakistan. And he creates some lunatics in a Mental Asylum and dubs them as Muhammed Ali Jinnah as well a Master Tara Singh, but strange that he does not create any Jawaharlal Nehru or Mahatama Gandhi. Why? Here we have a suspect in our hands? In fact he was writing to people like Ismat Chughtai that he did not like it here and wanted to go back to Bombay. Freedom was to create all the lunatics. But in his views the lunatics were these people and he makes them utter MURDABAD PAKISTAN too. Read about it yourself:
“A stout Muslim lunatic from Chiniot who had been an enthusiastic worker for the Muslim League, and who bathed fifteen or sixteen times a day, suddenly abandoned this habit. His name was Muhammad Ali. Accordingly, one day in his madness he announced that he was the Qa’id-e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In imitation of him, a Sikh lunatic became Master Tara Singh. In this madness it almost came to bloodshed, but both were declared ‘dangerous lunatics’ and shut up in separate rooms.
One day, while bathing, a Muslim lunatic raised the cry of “Long live Pakistan!” with such force that he slipped on the floor and fell, and knocked himself out.”
It is a fact that the writer Manto was himself familiar with the Lunatic Asylum in a very personal way. It is said that due to his alcoholism, he spent time in the Lahore Mental Asylum. So his writings were very realistic.
Our object is not to give you the story but the cue of the story. It is simple. Manto did not like the Muslims here and thought of them as ‘characterless in allowing Sikhs to rape the dead bodies of Muslim women. (thanda ghost). Manto was against the division of this region in two countries and did not believe in the Two Nation theory. Manto writes himself again:
“A deadly atmosphere surrounded as before summer, in the sky, eagles shrieks would make us sad,, in the same way Pakistan Zindabad and Quaid e Azam Zindabad chanted slogans, also were sad to our ears.
On Radio waves Iqbal Marhoom similar poesy was wearing us out by being a burden on our shoulders.” (loose translation)
The result the Indian lobby is supporting Saadat Hassan Manto to this day as a voice of ignorant Pakistan, whose intellectuals did not believe in the Ideology of Pakistan. As far as our greatest intellectual Dr Allama Iqbal is concerned, they invent all the wrong stories about him. You see false stories floating everywhere against Dr Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam, what about the exploits of Jawaharlal Nehru (Lady Mountbatten scandal) as well as Mahatama Gandhi. To save the reputation of Mahatama Gandhi, India bought letters of him to his Jewish lower, to remove them from public eyes. Is that not a fact too? How Gandhi uses exquisite words for his Jewish lover in sexual incidents?
The simple truth is that the Propaganda machine wants to spin evil against Pakistan and bath India in ocean of holiness. I am sure there are bad people on both sides as well as good people. But with the recent rise of the Hindu Mullahs in India the story is totally different. The saner element in India needs to pay heed to the call of the time. PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE AND RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY IS THE NEED OF THE TIMES.
And one thing is sure as attested by Carnegie Institute of Studies. Alcoholism generates paradoxes in our character and we say things, which we do not know we are saying. Alcoholism says the American Psychiatric Association makes Rats feel like lions and when the effect wears out they realize they are just rats and have to drink again to become lions. No reference to dear Manto Sahib.
Lahore became the capital of Mughal India for many years. Zaheeruddin Babar passed through, but Mirza Kamran made Lahore his city. To this day we have the remaining Baradari of Kamran to remind us of its origins. As the city was the cornerstone of defense of India, Emperor Akbar made it his capital for 14 years. Although Akbar was here again and again yet from 1584 to 1598 he was stationed here in his capital. People working under the Mughals were gradually converting to Islam for reasons of their own. Mostly these people came from lower classes and had no respect in their community. History records that Painters were treated worse than Mochis (shoe-makers). By embracing Islam they found out what emancipation meant. Mian Tansen is a good example of this conversion to Islam and to this day his grave exists in the compound of the Saint of Gwalior. Another example was the court painter Ibraheem Kahar Lahori, who converted to Islam, and was part of the camp of Royal Painters. Of course history records many more.
M.A. Rahman Chughtai was a legendary painter of Lahore and he wrote about the Lahori painters. One of the main area of Lahori painters was near the CHOTTA MUFTI BAQIR, who was a Mufti of the times of Emperor Shah Jahan. We know a lot about him and his books on religion. In the same place lived many painters and the chowk was named after painters too. First there was the Mohalla of Rahmatullah Naqash. This Rahmatullah was the father of the famous painter of Ranjit Singh’s time Muhammed Baksh Suhaf, and was the grandfather of another famous man, that is Fazaluddin Suhaf. Nearby at Mohalla Kharadia, other painters existed in their domain. The famous Imam Baksh Lahori also belonged to this area. When I went to the same place in 1977, I found a blue and white plaque of British period and it simply said MOHALLA SHEIKH BASAWAN. A Mohalla of a person amidst houses of various painters of Lahore evinced me to ask about the man Sheikh Basawan himself. I was told that he belonged to the Court of Emperor Akbar, and used to work for him in Lahore. This was the period in Lahore when the greatest Masterpieces of Mughal Art were created here. In fact the birth place of Mughal painting.
The background is surprising and very clear. Humayoun sought the refuge of the Shah of Iran and was hosted there in great honour. There he met various artists and invited them to India. Although two names are mentioned again and again, there were at least six prominent ones who came. Mulla Qutbuddin Jalanju was from Baghdad, and came till Mashad, and then for domestic reasons went back . The other five were very much there. Each did their best work and presented it to the Emperor. The five were Mulla Dost Muhammed, Mir Sayyid Ali, Khawaja Abd al-Samad, Maulana Darwesh Muhammed and Maulana Yusuf. Khawaja Abd al-Samad was appointed tutor of both Humayoun and the young Akbar for drawing lessons. Humayoun gave him the task of illustrating the HAMZA NAMA in Kabul. As Kabul was not very suitable, they came to Lahore and set up the famous Mussavari khana in the Lahore Fort. Here Abd al-Samad recruited painters of all types. It should not be forgotten that like other cities in the Indo region, Lahore already had a great tradition of painting and the Sultanate painting done here is a matter of record too. Here Khawaja Abd al-Samad recruited people like Basawan, who Abu Fazl praises to a great extent.
Yes Basawan was very much in Lahore and working here. The Historian Bayazid Biyat in his book ‘Mukhtasar’ mentions the presence of Khawaja Abd al-Samad in Lahore in 999 AH that is 1590 AD, although Akbar only left Lahore in 1598 AD. That means the Musavari khana continued to function in the city. But there is a surprise here. It is called Mohalla Sheikh Basawan, nothing else. The attachment of Sheikh with the name meant that Basawan had embraced Islam during his life time. We hear of Manohar Dass his son, and problems associated in that family and there could be the reason for this conversion itself. In his pictures at time we see the image of an holy man repeated, it could be his hidden self portrait. The background of his pictures is clearly Lahori in character as the red stoned buildings of Akbar prophesy here. It is a shame that Western and Hindu scholarship remain allergic to Lahore to this day for reason of mere bigotry and prejudice of the highest order. Without prejudice the Muslim Masters gave lessons of their art to all concerned more specifically the Hindu subjects. It was the large heartedness of the Masters which compelled many students to embrace Islam as attested by the abundance of Muslim families living in the painters houses to this day.
NOT ONLY ONE USTAD BEHZAD,
WEST NOT FAMILIAR WITH BEHZAD LAHORI
In search of a lost painter
A very impressive Western connoisseurship has gone down the drains. We saw a catalogue of Sothebys, for instance and it listed a number of people standing and their names were written on it. It said various names and added the affix Shahjahanabadi with it. The commentator had written that they were all related to each other for they all had same Sir names. We could laugh only. Shahjahanabad is name of the city founded by Shah Jahan, that is the Delhi and Agra complex in one. Similar basic mistakes appear again and again. Lost the ability to look like locals and locals lost the ability to look at all. Some common sense about ourselves only we have and the world is forewarned about it.
One relates to the artist Behzad. We are so familiar with the great Ustad Behzad, that if we see the name anywhere else, we think of it as someone trying to forge a work in the name of the great Master. Not always so, indeed. The Iranians boasted of a most famous modern Behzad of their own. We also have a Behzad Lahori and there are few paintings we can calmly claim to be his own. The Jain Miniature is not by Ustad Sheikh Basawan but by Behzad Lahori, and many have mistaken this as a wrong attribution. Not so. There are miniatures of European women which are linked to the brush of Behzad Lahori. The Darab-nama in the British Museum is also one of them. We have tried to give you some visuals of same.
Who was Behzad Lahori? This takes us to the Mussavari khana in Lahore Fort and Khawaja Abdul Samad, one of the pioneers of Mughal Art in our region. Abdul Samad brought two young sons with him when he came to Lahore from Kabul. One was Khawajah Shareef and the other was Behzad Mussavar. Khawajah Shareef was a great scholar and poet having the takhallus ‘Farsi’ as his poetic name. Stray manuscripts carry his name. The same goes for Behzad Lahori, who was reared up and lived his life in Lahore, and later died here at a young age. He was first brought to our notice by one of the greatest Persian scholar of Pakistan, Hafiz Mahmud Khan Shairani. Professor Shairani pointed out that this painter was definitely of this region and was the son of Khawajah Abdul Samad. Professor Shairani who had seen the Darab nama in the British Museum itself, spelled it in clear terms. This was later certified by the famous Western Scholar Dr Laurence Binyon, who said:
“A not very distinguished group in the sixteenth century Indian Darab Namah at the British Museum, London, bears the inscription, that the work of Behzad was corrected by Khawajah Abdul Samad.”
Other paintings of Behzad are found in the Changez nama in the Bankipur library, Patna. So the presence of Ustad Behzad Lahori is felt here and there. But the wonderful portrait of a Jain monk in a Lahori setting is obviously one of his masterpieces. More work needs to be done on him.
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PLANET EARTH AND PAKISTAN
Cultural and Intellectual Pakistan speaks out
Thank you more than fifty percent of the best known world in listening to us! We are a country of peace, and extend our hands of friendship to you all out there. It is the job of Governments to see self interest not the welfare of the people. We see a united Planet Earth, and we work for the same. We see diversity as good and when diverse people accept each other, it is called PEACE and PEACE is the literal translation of Islam. All these bearded loose cannons you see are paid mercenaries hired to tarnish our civilization. To fight for a cause is good, but to fight for money takes you to the lowest rung of civilization, the barbarians of the past.
Rejoice in the blessings of Allah! Live in peace with each other. Advance on the horizons of knowledge. Conquer the world through knowledge and research. Do not live for yourself alone, start living for others too.
THE FLYING WOODEN FLY OF LAHORE
KARAM SINGH MUSSAWAR AND MAHARAJAH SHER SINGH
An event of 1842 in Lahore
We came across a news of a robotic wood fly made in the United States and the owner was very proud of same. In his posting he proudly narrates the same:
There is no more rewarding moment for roboticists than when they first see their creations begin to twitch with a glimmer of life. For me, that moment of paternal pride came a year ago this month, when my artificial fly first flexed its wings and flew.
It began when I took a stick-thin winged robot, not much larger than a fingertip, and anchored it between two taut wires, rather like a miniature space shuttle tethered to a launch pad. Next I switched on the external power supply. Within milliseconds the carbon-fiber wings, 15 millimeters long, began to whip forward and back 120 times per second, flapping and twisting just like an actual insect’s wings. The fly shot straight upward on the track laid out by the wires. As far as I know, this was the first flight of an insect-size robot.
This immediately took us back to a news about 1842, which involved a painter of Lahore, and his name was Karam Singh Mussawar. He was a craftsman and could do many things. He was an expert carver too.He was also a carpenter par excellence and loved to experiment with his wood making techniques. One such experiment involve a fly made of wood which could actually fly in the air.
Karam Singh requested a meeting with Maharajah Sher Singh, and met the Sikh leader. He showed him his fly and the Maharajah jested, it was a fine creation, and would be best if it could fly too. Karam Singh released the fly and it flew and settled on the PAGH of the Maharajah, that is his turban. The Maharajah was perplexed and full of wonder, but unfortunately, he never felt it worthy to give any reward to Karam Singh, who was totally disappointed at the response. In any case it is a record of a wonder of Lahore of the 19th century.
WHO BROUGHT ARCHITECTS AND ARTISTS TO KANGRA FIRST?
EMPEROR JAHANGEER AND EMPRESS NUR JAHAN OF COURSE
A hidden story no one likes to repeat
Kangra Fort was captured by various Muslim rulers a number of times but full control was not possible, because it was difficult terrain to reach, conquer and maintain a possession. Even Raja Todar Mal of Lahore was put as resident there by Emperor Akbar but of no avail in the long run. Finally Emperor Jahangeer had set eyes on it. A fragmentary story is told of a parrot which Prince Saleem liked and the Prince of Kangra was not willing to give same to him. In any case Jahangeer set an eye on the Fort and it was finally in Mughal hands in 1621-22 AD. When news reached of same, the Emperor was in Lahore and overjoyed with the idea. He took Empress Nur Jahan herself and went to the Kangra Fort.
The allure of Kangra was very strong. The funniest thing missed by historian is that even the name Kangra meaning fortress was given by the Mughals, as the ancient name of Kangra was Susarmapura. That is why Jahangeer went on work here immediately on arrival. Jahangeeri Darwaza was commissioned and mosque made there and Jahangeer had his inscriptions put on it. The inscriptions were removed later on and were in the Kangra Fort from where they were brought to Lahore by Prince Nau Nehal Singh. Later on the inscriptions were moved to the Lahore Museum and not all of them, but some are still there in broken form.
Emperor Jahangeer wanted to place his presence there and sent for architects to build him a palace there. Even the foundations of the palace are still there and it commenced in its buildings. He had also taken Court painters with him, as he usually did on his tours, to record whatever he liked, and as Kangra was new and exciting for him, the painters must have recorded each and every detail of the Fort at that time. Unfortunately with time what remained and what gets lost is not in the custody of anybody.
There are paintings in the Lahore Museum which show Willim Moorcroft along with Raja Sansar Chand, but Moorcroft was not new to Kangra. Forster passed Kangra in 1783 at the time of great change. It was mentioned by William Finch, visited by Thomas Coryat 1615, Thevenot 1666, G. Vigne 1835, as well as others. In fact in the story of Raja Sansar Chand, he too had two foreigners working for him in the army, mainly Irishman O’Brien and James.
The question remains. Kangra Kangra Kangra! Actual ancient name Susarmapura not mentioned by anyone as Kangra is a Mughal name. Where were these so called Kangra paintings actually discovered. In the storeroom of Kangra Fort or somewhere else? The truth is that these so called Kangra paintings were discovered all over Punjab, in Amritsar, in Lahore and in other places, but most of them were in the store room of Harmandar or the Golden Temple itself. That is the place from where Bharani the art dealer of Amritsar was being supplied with these works. To put an allure to them, he stated talking about KANGRA to his clients. Even he did not knew their origin at all.
Who formed hundred and one schools of Pahari? William Archer the Indian Civil Servant did and he himself was paragon of confusion about it. When he came to see us with his wife, we had long talk with him and he left written note for us. But his confusion took the better of his sanity and he said he could not reconcile the various facets in his mind. In the end, as told to me by Doris Wiener, he commit’ed suicide for the disturbances in his mind. God bless his soul!
We have in our possession actual wrongly labelled works done by actual Mughal Artists. I never liked to call these works Rajput, or Pahari, or else, as in our view those are all wrong nomenclatures. They are done by artists of all religions and are done of all kind of subjects. I told Malik Shamas (Pakistani expert) the best nomenclature is PUNJAB PAINTING and it stands like that. Different styles of artists cannot be termed as different Schools of Art. So do not rant Kangra with us. Research yourself. Western scholarship is already in great decline and they have lost their ability of connoisseurship of art long time back. Now they see the world through Hindu eyes only!
KANGRA AND THE MYTH OF SCHOOLS OF ART OF PAINTING
ZERO PATRONAGE OF ARTS BY THE RAJAS
M A Rahman Chughtai’s visit to Kangra for exposures of Art
People talk of KANGRA all the time, without knowing anything about Kangra. The great Kangra Fort was in the eyes of the Mughals and its annexation was proving difficult. It was in 1621-22 AD that Emperor Jahangeer captured Kangra and built a mosque there. Kangra remained under the Mughals till 1783 when due to the waning conditions of the Mughal kingdom, it was captured by others. So pseudo historians would have us believe that in the course of a few decades the educated new Rajah developed a school of Art out of the blues. Shame on such people for demeaning the Mughal kingdom and making rats Rajah of great background and there is no doubt that Raja Sansar Chand was a mean person, hated by the people of Kangra. In the 1920s when MARC visited Kangra and asked an artist Hazuri there about the patronage of the Rajahs, tears came in the eyes of Hazuri, the last living artist of that area. He said we are considered worse than MOCHIS here and the RAJAHS do not patronize us, they steal what we make without paying for it. This is the Sansar Chand whose family is supposed to have given two artists to their daughters as dowry. Hogwash!
It is one of the oldest forts of India but it was first captured by Sultan Mahmud Ghazni in 1009 AD. By Muhammed bin Tughlaq in 1337 AD and then by Firuz Shah Tughlaq in 1351 AD. When Jahanger captured it in 1621-22 AD and he writes about it in his memoirs, he appointed Nawab Saif Ali Khan as its first Mughal Governor. A proud inscription was placed on the Jahangeeri darwaza there. Brought to Lahore by Nau Nihal Singh, the inscriptions of Kangra fort were transferred to Lahore Museum and they are still there with them. So to suppose that Mughal culture would not be at Kangra Fort is literally a load of crap.
Kangra was famous for four things:
1. Manufacture of new noses (yes some sort of plastic surgery was here). Home for thieves.
2. Treatment of eye diseases.
3. Basmati rice.
4. Strong fortress.
Nowhere it is mentioned that Kangra was famous for painting too. This is an innovation of 20th century.
The story is told like this. Raja Sansar Chand sent artists to Lahore and started a new school here. Spare me this bullshit! Lahore is a 1000 years old Muslim city with heritage of Painting from day one. Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi had brought artists from Ghazni here and later Sultans developed a school of art based on Chinese culture. That is why we have a Sultanate School of Painting here. Kangra did not give any style here, Lahore gave style to Kangra, and we well understand that. This is merely a blog. M.A. Rahman Chughtai’s DABISTAN book has been translated into English and will be published soon.
The simple truth is that the famous art dealer of Amritsar Bharani used to sell works to various people and to romanticize his sales, he fixed names to them. All the names we currently use are the names given by the Paintings wizard salesman Bharani and my father very well knew this and he had asked Bharani this question. Bharani used to say the more alluring the background, the better the thing sells, and he narrated his experience of the Englishman. An Englishman walked in his shop in Amritsar and wanted to buy a painting. Bharani asked for Rs 100. The Englishman wanted to reduce the price. Bharani said that he will tear the work but will never give for less than 100 Rs. The Englishman smiled and taunted him to tear it. Bharani tore the painting. The Englishman was shocked and asked what he wanted for the painting then in torn condition. Bharani said Rs 200. Annoyance reached its zenith, when the man said, for an untorn painting it was Rs 100, for a torn work Rs 200. Are you mad? He said mad, I may be, but I will not take less than 200 Rs. In the end the Englishman bought the torn picture for Rs 200. That was the strength of Bharani, he knew the heart of all his clients very well.
The style of various different artists are based on the style of the uprooted artists of the Mughal Court and everybody knows that. Fear of people like Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Durrani, made them run to the hills, in search of living, these poor painters reached out to the people. By drawing mythology as well as Rajahs, they were trying to make a living from normal people of the area. The Arch School creator William Archer became so confused in the end with his analysis of things, that as told to me by Doris Wiener, he committed suicide. He could not reconcile the divergences of his research. May God bless him!