Chughtai Museum was in touch with Jacques Chirac when he was the Mayor of Paris. Later as Prime Minister he became closer to the idea of an art show of M.A. Rahman Chughtai at Musee Guimet. This exhibition was accepted by Jeanine Auboyer, the Director of the museum and an expert on Islamic arts. J. Tolleti CEO of IBM Europe volunteered to finance it. Although both the French Ambassador as well as Pakistani Ambassador in France, Nawab Qazilbasch were involved in the venture. But the Ministry of Culture did not bow an inch, and a golden chance was lost. In words of M. Jacaues Chirac, “M.A. Rahman Chughtai was the greatest artist of Modern Muslim Civilization”.
There are a number of art works of English artists and etchers of 1930s who were companions of Chughtai Sahib in the class of Sir Frank Short in London, and presented their own works to him. Preserved by us as part of his museum in the future. Obviously further research as well as cataloguing is required for the purpose but we do try our best. These are the artists who saw Chughtai work in London and eulogized his works by offering their own works to him. We pay homage to them in this small way.
Famous artists like Graham Sutherland and Carol Weight were also introduced to M.A. Rahman Chughtai and we have written a lot about them in our book “East met West”. We will add more in the future. Our local morons forget that M.A. Rahman Chughtai made his name in the Arts in Western circles and he had proved his mettle to the best at that time. We will add Roger Fry and Eric Gill to the list too.
Berlin is far away from the sea, but the Germans made up this loss by making artificial beaches in the city. Perhaps the oldest one is the Strandbad-Wannsee beach in Berlin made in 1907. Some are very near the Berlin wall itself. We find a photograph of a German lady in one such beach, possibly this very one. The number of pebbles declare the beach to be artificial and man made for particular requirements. The lady on the beach is unknown but could very well be Ms Manuela C Didier Hartung, companion of M.A. Rahman Chughtai in Berlin on 27th June, 1937.
We know that Hartung is an important German name. We find the well known Fritz Hartung, the historian in that time period. Also we know of the famous artist Hans Hartung also in Berlin at that time. Manuela could be related to any of them or even more. But we hear of so many artists in Berlin at that period. Two sons of Paul Gaugain, Emil and Jean Gaugain were in the city as well as a Jewish artist who was scribbling political messages on panes of show cases during the night. One thing Chughtai does tells us is that a group of German artists, poets and intellectuals had assembled in Berlin to welcome him and some of them wrote poems on him (probably lost). June was also an important month for William Lyon Mackenzie, Prime Minster of Canada was also visiting at Adlon Hotel. The famous American journalist Ms Ruth Hamilton was also there with her own questions. Berlin was center of attraction for many. The passport of Chughtai tells us that he entered Germany on 24th June, 1937, a police report on 25th June, and it ends with 3rd July, 1937, when he exits Germany. The dates may be deceptive but the same are documented in the passport.
We know of number of Germans befriending M.A. Rahman Chughtai. Foremost Elza Huiffner, Hannah Huiffner, Agnes Werner, but we have no first hand account of Manuela, for reasons unknown. The autobiography of Chughtai is full of many details, and there could be a reason for same. The name may be sensitive in nature to those times as Chughtai was a British subject. And by this time he was titled too with the title of Khan Bahadur. So there may be political reasons for same. Our job is to record history and we do it well.
With due thanks to Elizbeth Chughtai for this valuable translation:
An Rahman Chughtai
You son of Lahore
Tanned in saturated colour
With the far eastern sun –
With the beam of the sun
Warming me – to meet me
In the cold occident.
What separates both of us…?
Nothing!! With the same thinking
You are feeling…
Like I do.., the bosom of nature—
And its wonders.
We feel the same… both of us…!
And when you leave,
Many thousand miles—
Till eternity will stay with me
The beauty of your soul…!
Dedication to R. Ch. Lahore – India
– In sincere friendship –
Manuela C. Didier Hartung
Berlin N.4, 27. Juni 1937
N 4 is the Post Office address in Berlin and that Post Office is still there, and it started in those times.
Follow the trail of many out spoken people in Pakistan, and it makes you wonder as to the reasons of indicting the nation on every issue. Well one may ask simple question: Which nation is perfect at the moment? There are slavish followers of demoralizing foreign lobbies. Has India progressed in any way with passing decades? Is the present people in power there have any minute sense of idealism. Western lobbies are going up the ladder or following barren to the ground. Zionist lobbies are talking of the return of epitome evil and erasing at least three fourth population of the world, to indulge in sin and riot. Do we not believe that the Judeo-Christian-Muslim moral values are essentially the same, and we can co-exist in peace? War mongering everywhere, when Islam even in its definition talks of PEACE. Know thyself is a Socratic ideal and surely we too believe in it. But what can habitual alcoholics tell us! Nothing. Disparaging all our efforts and not talking about the massive campaigns in last 72 years to undo us. And the strength of our national resolve, that those who predicted our down fall within months and years, see us getting stronger and stronger every year. If we were not strong, we would have been obliterated long ago. Our strength comes from Divine. It cannot be undone by mischievous elements.
A simple comparison between intellectuals of the early period of Pakistan shows us the vulgar characteristics of so called know everything people of today. Those were dedicated people, dedicated to Islam and dedicated to Pakistan. And carried brains within framework of Islamic morality. And they were not few, they were many. Today people of those standards are very rare indeed. East Pakistan was represented by the kind Dewan Mohammed Azhraf and gracious Mrs Akhtar Imam, both from Dacca. Enlightening us about building up the National Character of Pakistan. Well done you people! We will keep your message alive.