AN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY ROYAL ARCHITECT OF LAHORE
NAMELY USTAD ABDUR RAHMAN SON OF IBRAHEEM MIMAR
Hardly any names from this century known to us
Craftsmen were very fond of writing their own copies of Quran. Many Qurans of architects, artists, etc are known. Their trade delved in line work and calligraphy, and they learnt the same first hand at their homes and their tutors.
Very few names of architects of Lahore of the 18th century are known. This is unique copy of a golden Quran written at Darul Sultanat Lahore. The date is effaced or so, but it can easily be seen as that of being a MIMAR COPY of the Quran. We share unique images for the world related to the heritage of our city of Lahore. Ustad Abdur Rahman Mimar can be credited with the Mughal buildings of Lahore of this period, including the Golden Mosque of Lahore. Enjoy!
A TRADITION OF TOWERS IN ISLAMIC SOCIETY
THE MINARET OF MILL E QASIMABAD IN SEISTAN
The work of Sultan Tajuddin and his grandson
Seistan is a strange place. It is littered with ruins of Islamic civilizations. Various Sultan took control of it and then there were left only ruins of their civilization. Near the village of Qasimabad in Seistan stood a 120 feet high minaret of which only 75 feet were left hundred years ago. It is not known if it still stands today or not. In any case it was an outcome of the 80 years rule of Sultan Tajuddin Abu Fazl i Nasr who was a grand ruler of his time. He died in 559 AH. It was not completed within his reign. It was left to his grand son, also named Tajuddin Harah, to complete same. The grandson died in 612 AH. The tower was probably built between 1250 AD to 1300 AD. A systematic survey of it was undertaken by the British in 1872 AD.
All over the world minarets and domes define Islamic Architecture. But what is usually missed is that huge towers were also part of this urge to be seen from far away distance to announce the presence of Islam in that society. And this image of 19th century is a very rare image in itself.
A MESSAGE FOR MUSLIM EID BY A SIKH CALLIGRAPHIST OF LAHORE
AN UNKNOWN PERSONALITY ATTACHED TO THE MUGHAL COURT
Who has heard of Nidhan Singh? From the writing, it seems 18th century, and from the naqashi in silver, means poor times. It is probably the late period, something like 1740 to 1780 AD. Perhaps less or more. The client is Muslim, or the audience Muslim. It is worth of translation. It talks of a LORI and travel on the Prophet’s (PBUH) horse BURAQ, and also about enemies, and what not? Probably Nidhan Singh was also a poet in Persian.
We know nothing about him. We own the qita. Perhaps it was given to one of our elders by a Sikh friend of those times. Rejoice in breaking barriers!
CONFUSING THE IDENTITY OF MALIKA BILQUIS BY DOUBT
EVEN PUTTING A QUESTION MARK ON HAZRAT SULAIMAN
Conspiracy of questioning immortality of Quranic revelations
Solomon and Sheba we hear again and again. That is Hazrat Sulaiman and Malika Bilquis. Our revelations come from the Quran itself. Not an iota of doubt about such facts. The story of Sheba is also written on stones preserved in pyramids and their culture. It is a modern thing to put doubts on all narratives by speaking of no evidence. And even when evidence is found, putting a doubt on that too.
Researchers have pointed out the possibility of Sheba being African and traced her descent to areas in Africa itself. We will present a detailed blog about it. Her arrival at the Court of Solomon is mind boggling, with the gifts she brought for him. Not only were the same of material worth, but she also brought trees of various fruits for him. He made her walk on a mirror before him, and was able to see her without her knowing about it. Very interesting!
THE KHANA KAABA OF MUSLIMS AND THE TABERNACLE OF JEWS,
A LOT IN COMMON IN VISUAL IMPETUS AS WELL AS IN MEANING
Yahwah, the proclaimed God of the Jews, spoke to Prophet Moses, and instructed for a house to be built for Him. As the Jews were not permanently settled, it was to be a mobile home, and it was called as the House of God. Complete details of same are available in the Hebrew Bible, and we need not recite the obvious. Suffice that Prophet Ibraheem (Blessings of Allah) was also asked to construct a House of Allah, and was a fixed one and called the Khana Kaaba. Destroyed many times with time, as well as fires and floods and other factors, it has a lot in common with the Tabernacle of the Jews.
A TENT OF MEANING and a HOUSE OF ALLAH speak of similar background. The Quran is full of praise for Prophet Moses (Blessings of Allah) and we respect him as one of our own Prophets. It is strange that our illustrious brothers, the Jews, do not consider our version of same. For them the PROMISED LAND is the one they want to force themselves on, and to build the Temple of Solomon. Hazrat Sulaiman is of course our Prophet too. In historical accounts a lot of Jews embraced Islam and even those who did not, co-existed with Muslims happily for centuries. A word of advise for our Jew friends. Perhaps the Promised land would be there’s after all, when they finally realize that Islamic way of life is that of Allahs (and Ell their name for God). They do not realize that one day they will too become Muslims. It would be the start of a new ERA for humankind. Ameen!
THE MANY SIKH FRIENDS OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
LOVING PUNJABI BROTHERS IN ART AND LITERATURE
Around 1920 M.A. Rahman Chughtai got typhoid fever and a stage came when all hope was being lost. It was suggested that he should go to Kashmeer for recovery. In Simla a Sikh Doctor used to come on horseback to treat him. Later on it was found that the Sikh Doctor was instructed by Bhai Vir Singh to treat Abdur Rahman Chughtai. In Simla a meeting of Sikh friends took place, which included Joginder Singh, Dr Thakur Singh, and Sunder Singh Majeetha in praise of the Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai.
In 1951 Jawahar Lal Nehru instigted the publication of CHUGHTAI INDIAN PAINTINGS. Sardar Kashmira Singh of Khalsa College Amritsar wrote an introduction to it. A beautiful analysis of his works.
Without going into details right now, suffice that in the advent of M.A. Rahman Chughtai struggle for Art his Sikh Punjabi friends were hand in hand with him. We praise their love for the artist. More later!
A MUGHAL DOOR STILL STANDING IN THE CITY,
THE GRAND TRADITION OF THE CITY OF LAHORE
Lahore is full of surprises. But in the wrong hands and the commercialization process, things are really going wrong. A number of Afghans have actually bought most of the inner city and bureaucracy is helpless in front of their hoarded wealth and plans. But the face of Old Lahore still comes out here and there.
There are many houses with old door in them still standing. Many are of British period and some of the Sikh period. Hardly any of the Mughal period or the Ghaznavid Seljuk period. Although some of them still survive to this day in collections. Here is one not only with Mughal engraving but also a Shikar gah on them. Exquisite. The owners refuse to entertain people for it. The most beautiful carved doors were of Jahangeer’s mausoleum but somebody stole them. Maybe we see them one day somewhere in Afghanistan.
The interesting part is that wooden doors of Delhi are quite different from wooden doors of Lahore. Else where city culture reflects aesthetics. Compare Aurangabad, Delhi and Lahore. Different doors but vision same. A blog on Ghaznavid doors is due!
LAST YEARS OF DEPOSED EMPEROR SHAH JAHAN 1067 AH
A HOROSCOPE FOLIO OF A PALMIST GHULAM SHAH JAHAN
In 1067 AH, 1657 AD Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgeer and put under house arrest of Agra Fort, free to do many things (including watching the mausoleum of his wife), but no indulgence in the affairs of the country. We have seen manuscripts, documents related to his reign and with beautiful engraved seals. The same are royal in character, huge in size, with attributes of the Emperor on them. I have never seen a seal of a period when Shah Jahan was no longer a king, and came across one for the first time in my life. It is a small seal and it says among other things GHULAM SHAH JAHAN, literally SLAVE SHAH JAHAN. Not a King but a normal person. The Seal is very small, the name of the GHULAM is not given but love and respect is still there, when the Ghulam says DIL O JAN, literally heart and life. It is in a folio of an astrologer palmist and his numerical numbers. He is probably working out a horoscope of the deposed Emperor.
The seal is HISAB AZ DIL OH JAN GHULAM SHAH JAHAN SHUD 1067 AH, that is 1657-1658 AD. The last digit is not clearly visible and can be 1068 AH or even 1069 AH. Open to research!
THE LEGEND OF LAVA AND KUSHA IN HINDU MYTHOLOGY
NOT EVEN THE REMOTEST LINK WITH OUR CITY LAHORE
Someone creates a fairy tale and then that fairy tale is repeated so often that general perception is that it is the truth. Anjum Rahmani has recently written a book on Lahore, published by Oxford University Press, and the first scholar to outright dismiss the concept. Others have avoided reference to same all the time. What has Loh to do with our city. In fact in ancient text the name is not even Loh, it is known as LAVA. The trial of Sita had started as to the parentage of her sons, the two brothers, and it was at the dera of a hermit, that she was proven innocent of fidelity charges brought on by the people in those times. It seems bad people were around all the time.
The Hindu scholar M.S. Randhawa writes, and we literally quote him:
“After many fiercely contested battles, the city of Lanka was taken. Ravana killed and Sita rescued. Rama had doubts about the purity of Sita; he received her coldly and refused to take her back. Sita proved her innocence by the ordeal of fire; she entered the flames boldly and the god Agni led her forth placing her in Rama’s arms unscathed.
Some of the subjects of Rama continued to doubt the purity of Sita and hearing reports of scandalous conversation of a washerman and his wife, Rama sent Sita to the hermitage of Valmiki. There her twin sons , LAVA and KUSHA were born. “
The tale continues, but our subjects are there for analysis. We require no more.
The names are not LOH and KASU, but LAVA and KUSHA. Where did the legend of same came to the city of Lahore and Kasur. For the first time, it was ascribed to the work KHULASAT AL-TAWARIKH by MUNSHI SUJAN RAY BHANDARI of Patiala. If we study STOREY work on Persian Literature, we find very few copies written in 18th century, and many of them are not complete. The work was written in 1695-96, but no one has researched on same. In the 19th century various translations were made and many manuscripts were found. It would be valid to see the reference of Loh and Kasu starts from where and ends where? Suffice it is a premise not mentioned before in history but later British writers and writers in British period were quick to adopt same. Information is tested not taken point blank without research. If it was said, Sujan Ray has quoted no authority for his statement.
The Mandir of Loh in the Lahore Fort seems a continuation of the British Divide and Rule policy. If it really was 3000 years old, it would be way beneath the surface of the Lahore Fort, not standing par with it. And before the repairs, one can see it is made of British bricks, and not even Sikh Architecture. Research is required who manufactured the Mandir of Loh for public consumption. Our job is to point out possibilities for research. The Mandir of Loh is an artificial creation of the times. The origin and foundation of Lahore is discussed b y many writers. For us the present city is the city of MAHMUDPUR founded by Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi and populated by Malik Ayaz. And we have actual coins of that period to prove that statement. Well done researchers!
FABLES OF BIDPAI TRANSLATED BY ABDUL MALI NASER ULLAH SHIRAZI
DEDICATED TO SULTAN BAHRAM SHAH, ILLUSTRATED FOR KHUSRAU MALIK
The Ghauris were attacking Ghazni and burnt it to the ground. Sultan Bahram Shah to save himself rushed to their waning kingdom of Lahore. It was there in in 1147 AD that his minister Abul Mali Naser ullah translated the Fables of Bidpai for him. Bahram Shah is reputed to have died in 1152 AD. We do not know when there was felt a need to get a proper Royal Manuscript done, but a manuscript available was probably done in the time of his son Sultan Khusrau Malik. Compared to other Sultans, Khusrau Malik lived his life in Lahore, reigned eight years here and died here in Lahore. The last Sultan of the Ghaznavids body went into the dust of Lahore around 1160 AD. Interesting is also the fact that the translator Abul Mali Naser ullah displeased the Sultan and was also executed in Lahore. Both Sultan and patron are in the dust of Lahore.
We do know that Ghazni was a cultural capital of the world and it boasted of a library which was renowned for its contents everywhere. A foreign monk found a lost Greek classic in translation at Ghazni itself. With the conquest of Lahore, hundreds of professionals related to 200 arts and crafts were invited to make Lahore a cultural city. To this day, various bazaars boast of such craftsmen, who made their living here. Take Kinari Bazaar for instance. It is still there after centuries and its existence came into being in Ghaznavid times. The full credit goes to Malik Ayaz for this great work, and often he is even considered as the Founder of Lahore. His grave still exists in the Rang Mahal area, and it is a mausoleum again, thanks to his lovers to this day.
A detailed analysis of the oldest copy of Fables of Bidpai is being made, and we feel that E. Blochet was wrong and it was not made in Ghazni but in Lahore itself. There are many surviving old copies of Fables of Bidpai, but region is all are wrong. Only a person living in Lahore could know about the local animals as well as the dresses of Hindu Kings and proposed dress of Bidpai. These costumes, animals occur nowhere else. And they finally led to the Mughal version of Bidpai, and then the LAHORI version of Imam Baksh Lahori. That is another blog. In Pakistan knowledge about history of painting is vague and there is lack of interest in these aesthetics. M.A. Rahman Chughtai filled that gap and we are doing that now. Be happy!