PRESIDENT JOHN KENNEDY AND JACQUELINE KENNEDY
AND M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI NATIONAL ARTIST
Bridging countries on the art level on 13th July, 1961.
John Kennedy was an iconic President of the United States of America. Jacqueline Kennedy was nothing less. Dubbed as the American Rani, she moved places. There was a huge collection of paintings at the White House during the Kennedy tenure. The Kennedys were presented a painting of a KASHMEERI GIRL at the White House on 13th July, 1961. Our politicians would have taken such gifts home without any record. The painting is still at the Kennedy Memorial in Boston, bringing fame to Pakistan and illuminating the role of M. A. Rahman Chughtai in cementing relations between the two countries. It was exhibited in a grand show of International Gifts in 1999.
Under the auspices of USIS Lahore, Bano Qudsia was given the task of translating Jacqueline Kennedy’s biography into Urdu. That was done and the dustcover was made by M.A. Rahman Chughtai. Jacqueline Kennedy was pleased with the project and sent an autographed copy to the artist, and it was delivered at his house by the American Consulate General in Lahore, David Bane (later Ambassador at many places). Many photographs of the event are there in our archives. Those were the times when diplomats were diplomats, and when that stopped happening, It was President Ayub Khan, who had to write the book FRIENDS NOT MASTERS. No Pakistani Head of State ever had the courage to do the same. We salute him for his thoroughness as a Pakistani well loved by people of Pakistan.
Today when people can compare things, it can be said without an doubt, that after the Quaid e Azam, the most done for Pakistan was by Field Marshal Ayub Khan. Allah bless his soul!
THE INVASION OF MARASIS INTO MAIN STREAM MEDIA
PROFERSSIONAL YES BUT PANDERING TO BASIC INSTINCTS
Intellectualism, Aesthetics and Finer Taste all dead.
It is said that once MARASIS was an honourable word. Those were the people who cared for MERAS or culture. History says that the Marasis were responsible for keeping the legacy record of each and every family of the village, or more precisely warasat, and from there the Punjabi language converted Warasi to Marasi. Not relevant for our discussion at all.
In the course of time a Marasis was merely a joker meant to make people laugh by telling the audience jokes, and more often vulgar jokes. In private audiences even most vulgar jokes. We used to witness the invasion of PANDS into wedding ceremonies and they were so much a nuisance, that at times they were removed by physical force. Normally they would not budge an inch without taking money. They had a leather in their hand by which they used to bring out noise of giving a beating to the other person. Enough of that.
Cable TV nurtured the Punjabi Marasai drama. It would be full of jokes, ribald ones the most, with stress on passive homosexuals and transgender antics. In any normal and decent house the channel was flipped away as being too vulgar to even watch for a little time. And then the dancers with their so called sexual appetizing mujras (repulsive to the educated), which the dancers resented to be called as such. A famous dancer complained that their work was termed as Mujras and when the dance occured in Arts Councils, they were termed as Performance. Forgotten was the aspect that she represented sexuality dominated one, the other was pure sensuality of movement. It was like comparing Arjumand Shazadi with Sheema Kirmani. Obviously taste determined choice of both. Nothing else.
All these marasis, otherwise actors were very professional, and there is lack of professionalism in Pakistan at the moment. With classic actors being so much under paid, that the bias for becoming actors was lost with time. This gap was filled by the Marasis as they shifted into main stream media. No harm done. Enterainment continuity was assured. But the real loss is not felt be people who do not realize that the FINER ASPECTS OF TASTE are being questioned. Our standards of appreciation going down. Are we meant to laugh at the cries of a young factory worker being sodomized? A joke is redundant on this puerile subject.
If this is not checked with time, tastes developed by people like Imtiaz Ali Taj and Enver Sajjad would go down the drain. Lahore was famous for its INTELLECTUALISM, AESTHETICS and FINER TASTE. Bring that back before that is lost forever.
WHO WAS THE FIRST TO CALL MUHAMMED ALI JINNAH,
AS QUAID-E-AZAM. MIAN FEROZEUDDIN AHMAD, OF COURSE
A political jalsa at Mochi Darwaza Lahore
Many things people know. Unfortunately many things do not get written with time and then stand forgotten. You may come across stray references here an there. It was with great pleasure that I found out that Lahore has many distinctions and one of its many distinction is that it was a Lahori who christened our leader Muhammed Ali Jinnah as Quaid-e-Azam. The story in fact is very simple.
A political reawakening was happening in Lahore and it was witnessing lot of political movements. At that time the favourite venue for a jalsa was MOCHI DARWAZA LAHORE and it was here that a gathering had taken place as the All India Muslim League. The gathering was so successful that the number of people attending the same became phenomenal at that time. To commemorate the spirit of the place the area known as NAWAB SAHIB DA CHOWK was named as PAKISTAN CHOWK. In the fervor and heat of this address, there was a Lahori who was making a speech, extolling the virtues of Muhammed Ali Jinnah. All of a sudden he said, Muhammed Ali Jinnah is not an ordinary man but he is a Quaid e Azam. The remark caught up with the imagination of the people and from then on, it spread far and wide, and the birth of Quaid e Azam took place all new. It is our pleasure that it was a person from Lahore, namely Mian Ferozeuddun Ahmad, who gave this nomenclature to our beloved leader.
PHYLLIS ELLIOT OAKLEY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE
RECALLING HER VISIT TO CHUGHTAI MUSEUM
That caliber of diplomats no longer posted in Pakistan
The role of any diplomat is to bridge two nations. Representing one’s own country, the task of diplomat is to carve a relation with host country. That diplomacy is no more. Arrogance has replaced that attitude and the present diplomats are more like Commandos sent to hammer submissiveness in the country. How can one win hearts and souls with such an arrogant approach to life? Wrong postings have harmed countries seeking better image of themselves.
My father dealt with hundreds of diplomats, and mostly they were in Karachi then, but they still found time to visit Lahore and befriend the artists of Pakistan. These countries included Canada, Australia, USSR, United Kingdom, Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, etc, and of course USA. I myself hosted Ambassadors and High Commissioners of many of these countries. Our invitation card from day one goes to most of the Embassies in Islamabad. I see very few of them now. Afraid perhaps, but mostly unconcerned. Pakistan no longer matters to them, and they have treated us like a SLAVE COUNTRY now. Obviously they are making a grave mistake by distancing themselves from the people of Pakistan.
In this way I was recalling Phyliss E. Oakley, and considered her a perfect specimen of what an American is like. Reserved yes, polite always. In fact she possessed a wonderful insight into many things, and knew the power of the language of Art in diplomatic affairs. In fact another Ambassador Benjamin J. Oehlert had even started an ART IN THE EMBASSY programme in which the best of Pakistani Art was acquired and hung in the American Embassy. Chughtai Art hung in in the various US Consulates, but mostly there were FOUR WORKS OF CHUGHTAI ARTIST hanging in the US State Department itself. The works are still there and cement USA and Pakistan as nothing else. A work of Chughtai namely Kashmeeri Girl is at the Kennedy Memorial Boston, a gift of President Ayub Khan to John Kennedy at the White House.
A proposal to the new American Ambassador. Make your stay felt here! Prove Americans are one of the most friendly nations in the world.
About Phyllis Oakley at present teaching American Policy as Professor at John Hopkins University, USA.
Phyllis Elliott Oakley
American Foreign Policy
Phyllis Elliott Oakley is a diplomat who served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (1994–97) and Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (1997–99). She is married to former Ambassador Robert B. Oakley and is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Council on Foreign Relations. Oakley is a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Ms. Oakley held a variety of positions within the U.S. foreign service. She was a Staff Assistant to Under Secretary Philip Habib, an Afghanistan Desk Officer and a Cultural Affairs Officer in Kinshasa (on loan to the United States Information Agency, USIA). She worked with the Agency for International Development (AID) Afghanistan’s cross-border humanitarian assistance program in Pakistan and served in Congressional Affairs for the Near Eastern Bureau of the State Department.
Currently an Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies, Phyllis Oakley is teaching a course on functional issues in American foreign policy. She has also been a visiting professor at Mount Holyoke College and Northwestern University and serves on the visiting board of the College of Arts and Sciences of Northwestern University and the advisory board for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. She was chair of the board at Americans for UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) from 2003 to 2007 while also serving as chair of the Public Affairs Committee and Nominating Committee at Americans for UNFPA.
A REMOTE ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION IN INDONESIA
ACEH WITH PECULARITIES ALL ITS OWN
CONQUESTS OF HEART AND SOUL OF ACHEHNESE
I was looking at an old publication about the Achehnese and was surprised at some of its features, which have their own peculiar charm. An island in Sumatra, which converted over a period of time from Hinduism into Islamic way of life. No swords, no conquests. No threats of any kind. And conservative Islam took its roots there all on its own. Yes a few Saints did visit Aceh and are buried there but they came centuries after the conversion of Aceh into Islam.
We find King Erlangga ruling Java from 928 to 1049 AD. Marco Polo came here in 1292 AD and found most people idol worshippers except the petty kingdom of PARLAK which was ruled by Muslims. By 1345 AD when Ibn Battuta came here, he found it under the Sultan Al-Malik Al-Zahir. The remarkable thing is that there were no wars of any kind. Muslim had won the hearts and souls of the people of Indonesia, here Aceh.
One of its most amazing aspect is the rule of SULTANAS over Aceh. The best period of Aceh is considered to be the period when women ruled over the Island. The most famous Sultana is Sapiatodin Shah who ruled from, 1640 to 1675 in Aceh. She is remembered to this day for her ruling style. A famous Saint Abdur Rauf Teungku di Kaula wrote a book on Islam and dedicated it to her, extolling her virtues. Other Sultanas like Inayat Shah are also remembered in such a way by Arab travelers. Aceh also produced Warrior Queens.
The disgust started when the Dutch invaded Aceh for securing PEPPER and they came to be known as Pepper Wars from 1873 to 1914. Resistance was offered by many Achehnese but they died in the process as Dutch conquered the land. Many Royal monuments exist of the departed Royals but they are simple graves and are not buildings in any way. In any case an Islamic civilization developed here with many conservative aspects and yet many out of the way concepts, which can be termed as pure Secular. But that it what is missed. That Islam is in its own way approaches life in a very secular way. It is a DEEN not a religion.
A LITTLE REMEMBERED KASHMEERI UPRISING IN LAHORE
13TH JULY 1931 LAHORIS KEEN TO LIBERATE KASHMEER
Proclamation of struggle against Dogars
The news reached Lahore that the Dogar Chiefs were inflicting great cruelties on the Muslim inhabitants of Kashmeer. Ghazi Abdul Qadeer had risen to the challenge. Lahore wanted to join the movement. People started collecting outside DELHI DARWAZA and to start the revolution, collected lots of DEGHS OF LAHORE. Boiling water was poured in the vessels and then red colour added to it. Citizen of Lahore dipped their shirts in the red colour and put the dyed red shirts on. With clear sign of oneness, a big procession started which turned into a phenomenal jalsa, and they were collected under the leadership of MAJLIS AHRAR OF LAHORE.
People were shouting the slogan again and again:
UTHO UTHO MOMINO RUKH KARO KASHMEER KA
RAJ KO TABAA KARO DOGAR BAY PEER KA
A loose translation is like this:
RISE RISE MOMINS AND TAKE DIRECTION OF KASHMEER
DESTROY THE REIGN OF THE DOGAR CHIEFS AND MAKE THEM WITHOUT LEADERSHIP
The slogan rang all over Lahore in sympathy of Kashmeer.
The emotional rapport was not merely of Majlis Ahrar but that of people of Lahore. In fact Majlis Ahrar made the fatal mistake of opposing Quaid-e- Azam and the concept of Pakistan. There they diverged into different woods and never recovered their initial impetus in Lahore. It goes on to show that Pakistan can never forsake Kashmeer. It is a part of Pakistan that is still under foreign control.
A STREET IN LAHORE NAMED AFTER RAHEEM BAKSH
FAMOUS ARCHITECT AND GRANDFATHER OF CHUGHTAI ARTIST
Secrets of the Ages
A map of Lahore dated 1929 highlights various mohallas and streets of Lahore. Most of these streets used to have the typical British Blue and White Sign and these signs remained there for a long time. Modern era became the most destructive as many of these were removed, probably to sell to some kabaria for a handful of CHANAS, or desi cholas as we call them here. No respect for history or legacy. Instead of repairing, the best is to completely remove, destroy and keep no record.
The map shows a street near Takia Sadhus, named after some Raheem Baksh. Of course we know that adjacent is Mohalla Chabuk Sawaran which housed the ancestral home of M.A. Rahman Chughtai artist. Raheem Baksh was a famous architect involved in many British projects here in Lahore and it is possible that a street was named after him, near his house, or perhaps even a property owned by him. This would really be near the Chinay Wali Mosque in the area. Obviously research is the requirement.
A lot of research has been done on this man, some of which is included in our brochure on Dara Shikoh. More will be undertaken, for if nobody else, we are bothered about preserving our legacy.
THE FLIGHT OF THE NAU-GUZZAS TO LAHORE
FOUNDERS OF LAHORE IN ALL WAYS
The Earth spills out their history
When David (Hazrat Daud) killed Goliath (Jaloot), very few of these giants were left. Some think of them as off shoots of Cro-Magnons, others think of them as a separate specie. A last lot of them were in the Shrine of Astarte at Lebanon, when King Constanine routed them out and they fled to far off places. The official history of Shah Jahan, the Shahjahannama notes their presence in the hills of Afghanistan. Some came to Punjab, and finding a perfect hill lock near the river Ravi, settled the place forever. A probable date is in the 6th century AD, but many carried Muslim names after that. One carried the name of LA WAI. These were the first Nau-guzzas of Lahore.
A detailed account is available in my book LANGA THE NAU GUZZA OF LAHORE, and we would be happy to send a copy to anybody interested in the subject. Modern writers feel that the various graves of Nau guzzas are all fakes but we have ancient accounts of them in travelogues, including ancient photographs, which show the structures being made of Sultanate bricks. Some objects recovered from their graves are also known. Few brave researchers have also tried digging their graves. Archaeologists have also analyzed the graves. Official reports exist on them.
The tallest man on Earth was about Nine feet tall. Goliath is remembered as being ten feet tall. Obviously a human structure of Nine Yards cannot exist in any scientific way. The reason is that the GUZZ we think of as a yard was a different measurement in those times and varied from area to area as well as object to object. We would think of them as under ten feet in height. That here in he Punjab they were worshipped as gods cannot be denied and they did mate with local women, and produced children. A travel account has described the monstrosity of their genitals, and the Hindu women here, were obviously worshippers of lingams and considered them mighty gods. That is why they were left alone and put into graves as worshipping of so called Saints.
Suffice to us that figurines were made of them and we find their figurines from about 10 to 30 feet under the Earth, which means that they were worshipped for at least a thousand years. We can enjoy them fully. Again Western scholars are so bigoted that I have sent booklets as well as references to some famous ones and they have not even bothered to reply, for what we find is nothing, what they find is infinitely valuable. Bigots!
THE HERMIT ARTIST FROM EAST PAKISTAN
SULTAN THE BOHEMIAN PATRONIZED BY FATIMA JINNAH HERSELF
Where has he gone now? His art and all that.
Quaid-e-Azam had succeeded in making the dream of a revolutionary Islamic State come true. Pakistan was finally there. But there and then, where those who loved Pakistan, started giving it their best, the other part, the opposition, started their best to undo Pakistan. This is a strange phenomena. In Art a similar wave started, when Governor General Ghulam Muhammed, who knew nothing about Art, started raving about Art and the need for birth of the NEWER MODERN SCHOOL. Obviously that meant a modern artist would be created and a number of them were already on the scene to undo the Ideology of Pakistan. S.M. Sultan was in more ways than one such an artist. Completely bohemian, with wild man’s look, he fretted about art in his own way.
None other than Fatima Jinnah herself was goaded to take the challenge of promoting this man. Good, no issue! But how good he really was? Admired as an intellectual for his rejection of most facets of modern life, still he was termed as a Modern Artist. It is unfortunate that art history is full of dustbins of various artists. The very need to pretend to be something borders on hypocrisy of highest order. S. Amjad Ali paid his YMCA bills at Lahore, otherwise the Manager was seriously considering action against Sultan for nonpayment of stay dues. But that was the definition of being modern. Totally irresponsible! The Bengali figures seen in his art are even as a form of realism, totally unlike Bengal itself. Nothing new, nothing extraordinary. Nor classic, nor avant garde. In literal terms, ordinary. Compare him with Zainul Abedeen, a friend of my father, who I had the pleasure of meeting myself in Dacca. He looked as an artist and painted masterpieces, and he will be respected forever in any world.
Bengal fascinated M.A. Rahman Chughtai too. We see many Bengali subjects in his art and here is Bengali rendition which is forever. He had a huge following in East Pakistan. We have included some of these for people to enjoy. We have nothing against S.M. Sultan but in a desire to jump start their career, they resorted to gimmickry, which we do not like in any way. Surely Sultan had talent, but in his desire to be avant garde, he discarded it, and became faceless in the quest of time itself.
Ifftikhar Dadi writes: “Sadequain also befriended the East Pakistani artist S. M. Sultan (1923-94), who had arrived in Karachi in 1951, and the two artists spent much time together. Sultan, who had earlier attended the Calcutta School of Art with the help of Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy, an art critic and member of the school’s governing body, led a singular nonconformist life, eventually settling in a village in East Pakistan and adopting the ways of a Shivite ascetic. Sultan’s nonconformist life has been a subject of fascination on the part of many Bangladeshi intellectuals, and it undoubtedly influenced Sadequain’s fashioning of his own social singularity.” The way of life becomes more important than the work itself.
Pakistani Art history is full of dustbin of Art Gimmickry. Touted as revolutions, the movements died their down death soon later. In the quest of permanence, only the extraordinary is given life in the quest of time. As John Keats said, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.”
PAKISTANI PAINTERS IN 1952
A STRANGE BOUQUET OF FLOWERS
I think there are hardly any situations in Pakistan where groups can be seen together. Not one place where everybody can be represented. The Mullahs cannot be at one place. The Writers cannot do the same. The politicians if ever brought together swing their head in other directions. The divided Art Camp is no different. Groups which are engendered by foreign lobbies at one place, others have no clout. Few are people who exist on their own professional level. That is a rarity in Pakistan.
It was the generosity of M.A. Rahman Chughtai’s character that he never imposed himself on others. He never belittled or criticized other painters. He knew what would remain. And what would die their natural death. The Americans invited him, the Russians invited him, but he remained true to his own vision. His love for the Pakistan Idea supreme and he did not fall in the chaos of Liaquat Ali Khan decision making. Like the Quaid e Azam, he remained true to Pakistan.
We came across a rare photograph of a group of Pakistani Painters in 1952. All different types are represented here and where some are looking glum, he seems happy and relaxed. We wanted to share this photograph with people. Did you ever thought you would see Shakir Ali and M.A. Rahman Chughtai standing together. We see Agha Zubeida, Shakir Ali, Ustad Allah Baksh, M.A. Rahman Chughtai and Zainul Abedeen, amongst others. Enjoy!