THE QURANS OF EMPEROR AURANGZEB
MAXIMUM CALLIGRAPHED DURING HIS REIGN
Thousands exist to this day all over the world
The world is full of Qurans, and the most beautiful ones belong to various reigns. Quran writing in earnest started with the sons of Emperor Shah Jahan. Both Prince Dara Shikoh and Emperor Aurangzeb were fond of writing Qurans. Work of both exist to this day, but whereas Dara Shikoh left his record on the Quran, Aurangzeb in his humility would not write his name on the Qurans he wrote. He gifted some of them, at least two for the Khana Kaaba, and the same should be there to this day in the Tosh Khana there, but the holders of that place, are not involved in any earnest way in the history of this kind.
Obviously before Aurangzeb stared writing, he also collected Qurans. A beautiful copy written by Haroon bin Bayazid in 1613 was purchased by Aurangzeb for Rs 9000, which was a phenomenal sum for that time. It was later purchased by Tipu Sultan.
Many Qurans are attributed to Emperor Aurangzeb but remain unverified to this day. In any case his children, grandchildren and so on and so forth, were all fond of reading, reciting and writing the Holy Quran. Many copies exist which were written by Mughal Kings themselves. Our archives have some too. Including a Multiple Suras one written by Shah Alam II, who was later blinded by opponents. With Sultans so near the Quran, who could defeat them? They were finished by their own intrigues at their own hands.
THE POET BALDOON DHINGRA AND HIS ILLUSTRATIVE CHOICES
SHEIKH AHMAD, RAZIA SIRAJUDDIN AND AMRITA SHER-GIL
Forgotten Episodes of Lahore’s literary and artistic circles
Indians wrote in the English language all the time. Indian poets attempted poetry in English. Very few succeeded and very few recognized by the English themselves. Baldoon Dhingra was a poet of some eminence. He also translated things, wrote books and even wrote a biography of Amrita Sher Gil. He also held positions of importance. He was also involved in Theatre and considered it as a true Art form. Not much is known about him these days.
Our interest is different. He published three booklets on subjects in his poetic expressions. One was published from Cambridge, the other two from Lahore itself. And the front piece for all three were made by his selection of three different artists. One Sheikh Ahmad (husband of Anna Molka Ahmad), the other Amrita Sher Gil and the third, none other than Razia Sirajuddin, wife of Professor Sirajuddin. All there are in front of us and we share these three designs with our viewers, as a historical record. I wonder if anyone has these these three booklets. One has his autograph on it.
Baldoon Dhingra seems to have known Amrita Sher Gil well to have written a biography on her. If not one of her many lovers, at least an avid admirer. The illustration used in this book Symphony of Peace is possibly rare and perhaps not seen by many people. Published in 1938 at Cambridge, it too is a small booklet of poetry. The remarkable part of Baldoon Dhingra’s books are that often they are of few pages only. Not a writer writing long things.
The poem MOUNTAINS illustrated by Razia Sirajuddin is worth noticing in this lot of three. I think the design is exquisite and say more than what is normally said in such an event. This is my first recorded find of Razia’s work and I am very happy with it. We will continue our voyage of discovery on her. Till then enjoy all three!
STALKING THE MUGHAL HAREM AS PEEPING TOM
THE SHAMELESSNESS OF THE BASTARD FRANOIS BERNIER
MANUFACTURING STORIES THE FORTE OF THESE TRAVELLERS
Francois Bernier at great speed made himself a Medical doctor. As this education was completed in a couple of months, he was not allowed to practice medicine in France. The lure of Hindustan with its fabulous riches, dazzled these travelers all the time. Master of Divide and Rule policy, he watched the fight between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb with great delight and manufactured stories about it in his travelogue. He was so fascinated with female beauty that in his book on RACIAL CHARACTERISTICS of the world, he devoted half of it in describing feminine beauty. He got himself enlisted as a medical adviser to even the Mughal Harem under Emperor Aurangzeb, who perhaps could not sense the designs of the rascal.
The evil designs of Francois Bernier can be sensed that he wrote on the, “Manufactures of silk, fine brocade, and other fine muslins, of which are made turbans, girdles of gold flowers, and drawers worn by Mughal females, so delicately fine as to wear out in one night”. When the Mughal Harem of Emperor Aurangzeb was moving to Kashmeer, he quickly followed to get a better view of the Mughal ladies. He himself writes:
“I cannot avoid dwelling on this pompous procession of the seraglio. It strongly arrested my attention durig the laste march, and I feel delight in recalling it to my memory. Stretch imagination to its utmost limits, and you can conveive no exhibition more grand and imposing than when Raushenara-Begum, mounted on a stupendous Pegu elephant, and seated in a makadsambar, blazing with gold and azure, is followed………… . Besides these attendants are several eunuchs on horseback, accompanied by a multuitude of pajis or lackeys on foot, with large canes………. .”
It was with difficulty, he writes, that these ladies could be approached; they were almost inaccessible to the sight of man. Woe to any unlucky cavalier, however exalted in rank, who, meeting the procession, was found too near, nothing could exceed the insolence of the tribes of eunuchs and footmen which he would have to encounter, and who eagerly avail themselves of such an opportunity to beat a man in the most unmerciful manner.”
Bernier was himself was once nearly caught in a similar situation, and narrowly escaped the cruel treatment that other riders in the imperial train had experienced. Determined, however, not to suffer himself to be beaten, and perhaps maimed, he drew his sword, and having fortunately a strong and spirited horse, was enabled to open a passage, sword in hand, through a host of assailants and to dash across a rapid stream in front of him,.
What was he doing so near ther Mughal Harem? In modern terms he was stalking the ladies, and was lucky to escape the wrath of the eunuchs. But his motives are very clear. With a sick mind, he could narrate that there were five thousand brothel houses in Lahore alone. Only a sick mind could manufacture such a tall tale. The West makes heros of these greedy bastards. We know what they were actually worth. Older versions of present day intelligence agencies.
FIGURAL MOULDS FOR FRIEZES IN HAVELLIS
A FORGOTTEN MIMAR TRADITION OF LAHORE
A WALL FORGOTTEN WITH TIME IN LAHORE
The history of Lahore is not stoppable. With each day we discover new things about Lahore. Things forgotten with time. Upraised CHOONA work seems to have been a speciality of Lahore. The Choona Naqashi upraised work in the Mausoleum of Nawab Asif Khan tells us a lot about this tradition. Friezes in Mandirs were there, but friezes in havellis even rarer. I remember a KUTOAN KEE HAVELLI in Rang Mahal Lahore which used to have such friezes in wood placed at regular intervals in walls. The subject varied but included Prophet Yunus (Jonah) and the miraculous survival in the mouth of the fish whale. We have some in our museum. Upturned choona naqashis are there in the Golden Temple and there are miniatures of Mian Raheem Baksh Mimar who made them there. Other mosques both in Lahore as well as in Bhawalpur show the tendency. Ziauddin Chughtai Drawing Master Aitchison College Lahore as well a Mian Kareem Baksh Mimar specialized in such Choona work. But figures are comparative rarer. So when we came across a trove of moulds depicting soft animals, ladies in Ghararas, shalwars and dhotis, we knew we had touched upon a Punjab tradition, unrecorded in Lahore so far.
But the figurative drawing is very very modern. It had echoes of Chughtai Art in it. We do not know how old they are, hanging in a wall on a room , 10 feet across, small bricked house outside Delhi Darwaza, that is Bazaar Naulakha, near the Mosque of Mian Sultan Takhaydar, but we would place them from about 80 to 150 years, if we can. No religious subjects here, just aesthetics at stake. There are beautiful moulds of small children in them too. Deers and horses are there. Romantic couples Punjab type. Men support PHAGS on their heads. Peeris (seats) in many of them. Amazing all of them! Worth seeing, worth publishing in book form. But who cares for culture? Our so called cultural freaks spend most of their time in demolishing our own culture. Their interest related to royal commands from foreign lobbies. Soul-less people, indeed!
THE HYPOCRISY OF ABUSING PAKISTAN BY PAKISTANIS
FINDING IDEALISM IN MERE OBEYANCE OF LAW IN OTHER COUNTRIES
FORGETTING THE IMPORTANCE OF IDEOLOGY ITSELF
I was sitting in the office of a governmental official and he was continuous railing against Pakistan. He had travelled abroad and found perfection there. His nirvana was the obeying of traffic laws, and such every day services. His favourite punch was that of the many holes in hell and the one with Pakistanis in it, having no guards. No guards were required for every Pakistani would pull the other trying to escape Pakistani down. No guards. For instance one could ask, who visited hell and came back? Some RAW agent who manufactured this blasphemy. We are so fond of speaking against our own country. I wonder who will defend same. Then you find the pseudo intellectuals who rail against Dr Allama Iqbal and then there are those who start cursing Quaid e Azam. WHY?
Do you know what FREEDOM is? Ask the Rohingyas in Burma what it is and they will tell you. Marooned in ships without water and food, no one is tying to save them. Not the fat paunches Arab Sheikhs who think of seducing some new virgin every day. Ask the village in Haryana whose houses were burnt to the ground for they dared to build a mosque in Modi’s India. Ask the lady in the aeroplane who could not get a can of usual drinks for being thought of as a terrorist. Why should I quote every rotten thing in the world? The world is full of roses as well as thorns. We have to live with both. We have to seek best for ourselves as well, as best for others.
The system has collapsed for it has brought the WORST in Pakistan at the best posts in Pakistan. Morons riddled with greed who are bringing the country down. I have seen with my own eyes traffic on the Mall road which cannot be believed today. Even mere cyclists would stand in a straight line. All cycles had lights on them. There was dos and dons of cycling. Plenty of ladies even on the Mall driving cycles. Tongas had set rules. The occasional cars also worked with rules. WHY? For there were honest Government officials in implementing things. Not chain of corruption in which everybody shares the spoils. Encroachments everywhere on the streets. WHY? For each Rehri wala pays a sum every day to the Police for standing there. Correct that and Pakistan stands corrected.
INSAF. Give insaf to people. Then you will see what the people of Pakistan are made off. When they feel victimized, they rebel against authority. Give them their due and they will give the Nation their due. UNITY FAITH AND DISCIPLINE! Try them. If not by will, force that on the people. Pakistan will correct itself in no time.
The Idea of Pakistan is above reproach. The State of Pakistan ever desirable., The Government is responsible for the mess in our life. CHANGE IT! Change the system! Start defending your country. If it collapses, then you will know what abuses are? The world ready to abuse you out of your existence. No need to abuse them. STAND TALL! That is enough for them.
THE ILLUSION OF WESTERN SCHOLARSHIP
NO ABILITIES TO JUDGE CHUGHTAI ART
We are the world authority on M.A. Rahman Chughtai
A long time back our Rata Totas (repetitive parrots) started talking about Chughtai Art. Not knowing even an iota about the subject, and possibly most not having seen one Original Chughtai, everybody started talking like he had a PHD course on Chughtai Art. That ended in my writing of the book FOMENTING DOUBTS Game Plan of Cultural Terrorism. The talk stopped for some time. Works stopped coming to Auction houses. I had proven in the book of mine that at that time eighty percent of what was being sold at Auction houses were FAKES and I had the testimony of the man in Karachi who used to make them for various VIPS of Pakistan. He was paid just Ten thousand Rupees and the persons involved made millions. That was so unfair but nobody was paying attention to same. My presence was resented by many for spoiling their easy business.
Ms Christa Paula of Bonhams was the first person to involve me in the Authentication of paintings of Chughtai Art. I did it for her free of cost for some years. Then even Maureen Rizvi and Nour Aslam got my help. I have written letters from them to prove my contention. Then again they stopped doing so. It was not easing business for them, proving fakes all the time.
Recently a picture came up at Bombay which I proved to be fake and it was withdrawn by the company. I love Ms Sonali Dean for listening to me. Three pictures have appeared in London. All three are fakes with manufactured provences and everybody knows they are manufactured but business remains business. We publish all three with all three Chughtai originals. These three are not with us and we are using printed Versions from Chughtai Paintings, the book printed first in 1939, then in 1941. To the best of my knowledge most of these would be with the Nizam of Hyderabad or in the State Museum Hyderabad or the Salar Jang Museum. Privately very few people could afford to buy them even at that time.. The Nawab of Bhawalpur did buy 10 paintings in 1920 and we have a list of them but the Nawab did not buy same in the 1930s. These paintings were of the type that there was no need for Chughtai to repeat them. Yes, Marcella Nesom says so, but who told Marcella Nesom all this. I did when she came here to our premises in 1978 without even knowing the name of Chughtai as she was working on a PHD on Textilles. We have her form etc all duly signed by her. Documented evidence is my forte.
I am the son of the artist. Eighty percent of whatever he produced is with us. I run his museum,. I promote and preserve him and do research on his works. People know nothing about Chughtai Art nor do they even bother to ask. I am working nowadays with a few leading experts on Winsor and Newton colours and Whattman papers and will shortly be able to present Scientific evidence of all that we say that there is. The mouth of those who bark will be filled with their own crap soon. Till then buyers beware! Notice, check, research. Do not take Western Scholarship at its evidence.
The work “Summer Rose” made only once and original with us, auctioned in London some years back for 66000 UK Pounds.
A NEW CONCEPT OF RULE BY PEOPLE
YES, NO GOVERNMENT AT ALL
OBVIOUSLY BETTER THAN THIS ANARCHY RIGHT NOW
The hype of rule by people is a mumbo jumbo which can be stopped and the next logical step is actual rule of the people. Yes, No Government at all. Everybody doing things on their own. Trading by barter or by precious materials, or even by labour itself. A return to basics in life. There will be more equality, more emancipation here, than anywhere else. Let the Army be an entity in itself, defending the borders against foreign invasions, living in their own areas, free from the fret of democratic rule gone berserk.
If disagreement prevails, people will take care of it themselves. Let them do it by reconciliation or let them fight it to the logical end. Instead of involving the Police force, with its countless corruption possibilities and the Courts with rapacious appetites for disorder and delay, things will be solved in minutes or hours or days. Perhaps even the ritual of manly duels will come alive again. Sword fighting on the Mall road, or a Six Gun shoot out at noon to better the fastest gunfighter of the traditional Cowboy Western world.
The walls of our house will get higher. We will be planting vegetables in our lawns. Raising poultry for ourselves and sacrificing animals whenever we can find them. We will become so healthy that we will be able to dispense with many medicines and health will return to us. Pure food will be ours to take instead of the adulterated food, which includes donkey meat fed to us.
Horses and Carriages would make a come back in a big way. No pollution, global warming will even go away. Need for Speed will be gone. Everything done well, diligently. Time to know the neighbours. Make friends. Drink healthy drinks. An Ideal life would be back. Hard work will take the place of cut throat competition. Good will shops will be restored. Reputations will come back for honesty.
Nothing will be perfect. But is our life today perfect under the total harassment of our governments, who think of us as insects to squashed under their feet. Yes, Ideas are good for options to come to our minds.
THE ZEAL OF MISSIONARY JOHN LIVINGSTON NEVIUS
ATTEMPTING TO CONVERT CHINA INTO CHRISTIANITY
CHAIRMAN MAO TSE TUNG COMMUNISM WON IN END
It is really creditable that missionaries swept the world to convert them to Christianity. Civilizations which had no concept of this religion were exposed to these ideas through use of their own cultural initiatives. I do not know how many John Livingston Nevius converted to Christianity in China, but certainly he tried in very telling circumstances. Their best method was to work with the poorest and most deprived classes of any society and treating them so well, that they would think of these missionaries as angels (or gods) from heaven itself.
In 40 years of his various stays in China, Dr Nevius started Sunday Services, Bible classes and whatever he could. Conversions there were not many! On 4th March, 1878, a boy who had studied in their school for ten years, converted to Christianity at age of 26 years. His name was Liu Mao-Lin, and it was considered a great achievement by the Nevius couple, both husband and wife. Others may have followed this conversion. By about 1889 Dr Nevius had gone back and even toured the United States. The Monastery culture of the Chinese was too strong for the Christian missionaries.
The English had also introduced opium into China and whole of China went into slumber of laziness. It was then the long March of Chairman Mao Tse Tung and his revolutionary policies which swept China and made it the power it is as today. One of the oldest civilizations of the world regaining their glory in the newer world by strategies which have dazzled the opposition in the world. In fact it was often said that the Quran itself was the guideline Chairman Mao was working on and people hoped that China would weave some connection to Islam itself. The friendship of China and Pakistan is one such venue for the future.
ART REVOLUTION IN IRAN
BILLBOARDS IN TEHRAN HIGHLIGHT ART MASTERPIECES
BRINGING SHAME TO OUR OFFICIALS FOR ART NEGLECT
The Art anarchy in the Muslim World today ha become phenomenal. Promoted by Caliphs, Sultans and Emperors and later by Presidents and Prim Ministers, today the Islamic World of Art is playing less and less emphasis on the Arts. Surrounded by jesters painting doomsday scenarios all the time, no room is left for building up the sensitive citizen. That is why the bold step by the Mayor of Tehran in replacing most of the billboards in the capital city with works of Art from all over the world is a phenomenal development in itself. And that not only to promote Persian traditional and modern art but to give air to all the outstanding artists is really commendable. I salute the Mayor of Tehran for this venture!
What more I can say? I wish we learn something from this for our own harassed citizens and the governmental role in making us zombies galore of all times.