A STRANGE ANECDOTE NEVER MENTIONED IN HISTORY BOOKS
CHAUDARY KHUDA BAKSH HONORARY MAGISTRATE AT LAHORE
Mughal legacy of his ancestors living in the Sheesh Mahal Lahore
An enormous amount of books were published in British times in Hindustan, about the nobility present here, and the felicitations of the Government of India to them. In 1937 we hear of a Chaudary Khuda Baksh in Lahore, who is a Zaildar, Jageerdar and Honorary Magistrate in Lahore. The official chronicles sing songs of their family and the family possessed SANADS from the great Mughals related to their importance in Lahore. The family was known as KATARBAND and had possessions in Lahore.
Nothing new here. So many people were blessed on same lines. But here is a stupendous information, unknown to historians. It is said that Emperor Shah Jahan was so pleased with the family, that he gave the SHEESH MAHAL in LAHORE FORT to them for living. It would have been a meaningless claim, but it appears in British records. And the most amazing thing us that they were in possession of Sheesh Mahal, till the Sikhs ousted them out. In retrospect they gave suitable havellis or residence to the Khuda Baksh family in other areas of Lahore. Katarband literally means KATAR, which is a strange Sword in itself. Either they were famous for manufacturing Katars or carrying them. Or something related to their bravery in defending others! Speciality of Katars in some way. There is a Katarband road in Lahore near Cantonment area. Probably research can establish other links. This is not that old. Indeed worth researching and indeed worth recording for the future.
In fact the issue is that our nation is in no ways worried about its legacy. Amassing wealth is the biggest name of the game. Unfortunately the legacy of the looters and plunderers is zero. And we know it.
NOT ONE PATRON OF ART IN PAKISTAN
HOW DOES ART AND ARTISTS STILL EXIST?
M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI THE ONLY AND ONLY ART PATRON
Have you ever heard the concept of art patronage in Pakistan? Have you ever seen in recent years the Government of Pakistan or the provincial governments buying Art in Pakistan and encouraging an impoverished artist community here. Once upon a time there was a financial award attached to the Pride of Performance award in Pakistan. Does business community supports the Arts? Shame shame and utter shame on our rich class, who have gotten riches by fair or unfair means but never developed the knack of doing anything good with their money. Can we never have a Paul Getty, Arthur Sackler or Dr William K Ehrenfeld here in Pakistan? Probably not for many, many years.
But there is a future and we can only hope for it. Hope that one day the Sun will shine again on the class of people who need support to continue their existence. Obviously artists were never bothered about worldly matters and the Sultans and Queens cared for them. Today democracy has failed to evolve systems to encourage them. The real artists have declined in the country, only those are prospering who have sold their souls and dance on the tunes of foreign lobbies. Their favorite motto is to rewrite our history and curse our Ideology. For that they are willing to do anything. Anything means that what they create is time bound to evaporate into nothingness.
Buying power is not related to Art patronage. In fact very ordinary people with zero purchasing power too opt for Art at their own levels. But it is the duty of the rich to foster Art growth in country. Paul Getty would have died an ordinary death and faded in history, but his making of the GETTY MUSEUM in Malibu California will keep his name alive literally till eternity. Same is the case with others.
This makes us come to the story of CHUGHTAI MUSEUM. A concept engendered by M.A. Rahman Chughtai to save his most precious Art works as well as Art works of other artists as well as one of the best libraries possible within his means, in form of a museum in Lahore. Instead of supporting him in his venture, the Federal a well as Punjab Government tried their best to stop him for he was not in the good books of foreign lobbies who did not want the Ideology of Pakistan strengthened through such means. The museum survive and we have worked for 40 years to put it on the map of the Art world. But that is another story.
ARE COMMANDOS SAME ALL OVER?
OR ARE OUR COMMANDOS DIFFERENT?
Allah O Akbar makes a difference
A Commando is trained to take the life of another person. Killing a living human person is not an easy job. That is why all commandos are trained with the idea that THINK TWICE BEFORE HAVING PRINCIPLES. Principles interfere in performance. A commando can be sent on any mission. Probably not sent to remove their own families, but the capacity is there to even obey that order of chain of command. What a harsh life?
The SSG Commandos of Pakistan Army is a different thing all together. If I remember correctly General Mitha was responsible for their initial formation. Of course they had help of the American Commandos on the same subject. General Mitha believed that the CIA had sponsored the project to leave behind their replacements whenever they may require that. Training was rigorous then, and is rigorous now. Nowadays after retirement commandos bring their learning experience together and make SOFTWARES of their tactics. That software kind of thing is marketed in the world by EX Commandos and by Private Armies, ready to be hired for jobs anywhere in the world. Blackwaters and Engility come to mind.
The TV Season brought episodes of a lady Commando NIKITA to the screen. Headed by a Master Planner and Assassin PERCY, it was worth watching, for its lack of all response to virtue. The theme was merely Greed and Power all over the world. PERCY personified EVIL at its best. As if nothing like it can ever be true, almost twelve firms are cleared by the American Ministry of Defense for this international jobs. Obviously other countries have their own private armies too.
So what makes Pakistan’s SSG different from others. Very simply the Quranic injunction ALLAH O AKBAR. That be prepared to lay your life in the Cause of Allah, and if you die, you embrace Shahadat and the time to move to the next plane of life is shortened and you get into Heaven on an immediate level. It is the very presence of principles that differentiate Pakistani Commandos from others in the world.
M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI’S HOMAGE TO SIKH PHILOSOPHER
A LOST IMAGE OF BABA GURU NANAK
Love for many of Sikh friends of the artist
Guru Nanak is the founding father of Sikhism. No one can dispute that. No one can criticize him too. He is the faith of all Sikhs. But a lot woven around him is plainly fabricated and that is not true for Sikhism alone. Every one builds up an icon and then weaves stories about him. The reason is that he did not write much in his lifetime. His spoken discourses were copied by his successor Guru Anjad, others credit his follower Baba Mardana after his death. Yes, janamsakhis exists, but even the oldest one of them (Bhai Bala), does not match their stories with other stories. Maulvi Ghulam Muhammed gives credit to Said Hussain for Nanak’s training. For instance a Sikh writer, namely Sewaram Singh Thapar, himself writes in 1904:
“The History of the Sikhs Gurus lies much in obscurity. The material at our disposal are very chaotic and misleading. The authenticity of the few extant janamsakhis has been seriously called in question. Many of them are full of mythological descriptions and fictitious tales.”
There was an illustrated manuscript (18th century perhaps) in Lahore with an antiques dealer of the Lahore Museum, in which Guru Nanak’s life was illustrated. There was even a miniature of his meeting with Emperor Zaheeruddin Babar. They sent it for identification to the British Museum and turned it to an American diplomat. The American diplomat just plainly stole the Manuscript from the dealer. Mian Aslam narrates the theft to this day with disdain in his heart. Claims are made of many things by Sikh writers. They claim that his portrait was made in Tabrez by Kamal uddin Behzad himself. I obviously do not know the truth, but it remains a claim, till it is substantiated.
The visit of Guru Nanak to Mecca is there in the Granth itself but the Granth itself was a subject of revision. In any case no one needs to dispute the claim that Guru Nanak visited Mecca (Dr Zakir Naik does) and had a row with caretakers there. He slept with his feet towards the Holy Kaaba and the caretakers resented it. Guru Nanak volunteered to change the directions of his feet. And then the Miracles started to happen, for as they would turn the feet of Guru Nanak away from the Kaaba, the Kaaba would start rotating itself towards the feet of Guru Nanak. This kind of Harry Potter and Dumbledore stuff is found in tales of most Peers and Faqeers of our area. Ali Hujveri Data Darbar just picked up a mosque from its roots to correct the Qibla of same. I am not one to believe them, for I am scientific oriented person, with use of my mind. These are only Faith stories and people are welcome to believe them. Clash of Titans are romantic for knowledge.
This makes us come to the portrait of Guru Nanak by M.A. Rahman Chughtai. The idea was that of the artist’s own. He wrote to the Maharaja of Patiala that he was making such a portrait and would send it to him. The Maharaja was delighted with the news, but when the portrait was made and it reached him, he did not like it. He wanted the artist to change the style, and the concept. The portrayal showed a portrait of a PUNJABI as a SIKH PHILOSOPHER. The Maharaja wanted the garb of a Holy man in deity role. He did not like it and returned it to the artist. The artist would not change his views. Finally it was printed in MODERN REVIEW CALCUTTA as a SIKH PHILOSOPHER but it was ascribed to JALAL UDDIN CHUGHTAI, a nephew lo the artist, who was an Engineer in Railways. He retired as General Manager Pakistan Western Railways as the top man in his services. But he was never an artist in any way. I felt it must be shared. It can be enjoyed for its deep insight. In fact it very much resembles a portrait, which is described as being of the Guru and done in his lifetime. Unfortunately the style and materials are not of that era in any way. But who are we to make a judg’ment. The Sikhs love it, let them love it. In faith, truth is secondary. Where is Chughtai’s portrait of Guru Nanak? I do not know. It must probably would have gone to some show in India and sold there. It must be out there somewhere. We do not have it in our archives, except the printed one. It is a record in itself.
THE NINCOMPOOP CONSERVATORS ATTACHED TO NATIONAL MUSEUM KARACHI
NO KNOWLEDGE OF WINSOR AND NEWTON PERMANENT ARTIST COLOURS
THE AUDACITY OF THE FOOLS TO QUESTION CHUGHTAI ART PIGMENTS
M.A. Rahman Chughtai was not merely an artist. He had the vision to learn everything related to Arts. One such factor in his mind was to make his art last as long as possible. For that he was obsessed with using the best ART MATERIALS in the world. We have an invoice dated around 1930s of import of hand made brushes from a 400 years old Royal Japanese shop in Kyoto Japan. (We will write about that in a separate blog)
He loved excellent quality hand made paper and though he did try other papers (mostly in initial period), he stuck to WHATMANN HANDMADE PAPERS from Old Turkey Mill, the Royal suppliers of paper. That paper had lifeline of perhaps 400 years. In a similar way he experimented with different colours and different forms of rendered colours. He did not like tubes but stuck to solid cakes for his work. The colours of WINSOR AND NEWTON PERMANENT ARTIST COLOURS which again had a life line of hundreds of years. And he did not leave his work exposed to light and environment. He carefully packed each work and preserved them well., The result that even the normal expected degradation could not take place.
We attach a booklet of Winsor and Newton. This booklet is at least 83 years old. The paper had gone literally brown with age but the colors on it, which are a fresh as when they were printed. And read what it says, ABSOLUTELY PERMANENT COLOURS. Shame on the personalities of those who can doubt the same!
When Art gets into hands of low IQ and low EQ people, what can you expect? That they will run to other fools, and start a campaign of maligning the good name of M.A. Rahman Chughtai. Our politicians are making Pakistan learn a new lesson. And that lesson is that honesty is of no use, corruption prevails and will win in the end. And right now they seem to be getting away with it. The dilemma is as old as humankind. Truth versus falsehood. Kalila versus Dhimna, the clever foxes. What are we to believe? Allah of course, when he reassures us of the LAW OF MAKUFAT that to every action here is a reaction, and good will render good and bad will face bad consequences. Nothing else matters!
When billions are poured from outside world to defang Pakistan, away from our Ideology and Principles, we suffer from a RAW deal all the time. So how can the Art world be separate from that? The Art world in Pakistan is jinxed. We can only copy the Anarchy in the Western world, we cannot evolve from our own traditions. There is lack of talent everywhere, but most of all Art is surrounded by a low self esteem of ourselves. That is why when an icon like M.A. Rahman Chughtai shine, nincompoops try to spit on him, not realizing it falls on themselves. No on gives us anything. We live on our own selves and like the young boy, knows when the King is wearing no clothes. Allah’s blessings are on us! No one can take that away.
A STORY OF GERMANY AND PAKISTAN
DR HEINRICH LUEBKE PRESIDENT OF GERMANY
INTEREST IN ART OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
The Commissioner Lahore (I think S.M. Masood) was at our door steps in emergent hurry. The President of West Germany was at the Badshahi Mosque Lahore and had expressed an interest in meeting M.A. Rahman Chughtai. While S.M. Masood waited in our drawing room, the artist got ready, and departed in the official limousine. The meeting was most friendly. Various important German leader had met Chughtai in the past, which including Feuhrer Hern Hitler in 1938. The Government had already presented a painting to the Chancellor of Germany’s Central Bank, and Chughtai Art was being discussed in Germany.
The Government had also presented a painting to the Mayor of Berlin. In any case relations had become cordial. A painting was presented to DR Heinrich Luebke, and DR Luebke responded by sending his Finance Minister Walter Scheel to the house of the artist to give him a GOLD MEDALLION in recognition of his art services. The typical Governmental machinery did not allow the Minister to pay an official visit, and Minister Scheel went back to the State Guest House, and then on his own sneaked in a metallic Silver Mercedes Benz to the house of the artist to give him the medal personally. The journalists were awe struck at the audacity of the Minister in doing all this on his own. They forgot how much respect Germans gave to Art and Artists.
A rather informal letter by President Luebke in 1965, when he receives two paintings for his personal collection, explain things. Love of Islamic Art was phenomenal in the Germans of those days as well as before. This relation continued with the next President, that was Walter Scheel. How President Scheel reacted to Chughtai Art is another story and best carried out in another blog. Suffice that Germans continued to express their love for Chughtai Art.
One such interest was holding of a CHUGHTAI SHOW at the German Embassy in Islamabad. Dr Klaus Terfloth initiated the show and the interest was to hold a CHUGHTAI SHOW at the State Gallery in Bonn. But Pakistan declined to do so and that is another tragic story of the past. We have lived with the failures of the Federal as well as Provincial Governments and it is like a habit. Democracy in Pakistan will never deliver! The Public is never in the eyes of the State.