AN INTERNATIONAL SHOW OF SHAZIA SIKANDER IN USA – USE OF PAINTING FRUIT SELLER BY M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
RISD Museum in USA hosted a show of Shazia Sikander. Unfortunately, due to pandemic Covid issues, it was not physically accessible as it was meant to be, and literally went virtual as all museums are now facing the crisis in this way. The writers wanted to use a particular painting of M.A. Rahman Chughtai in it and when we were contacted, we provided same to them. All of it came in print and we were provided the catalogue of same, courtesy of Ms Sionan Guenther. We also cooperated with the museum fully and without any charges of any kind.
Sharing this important information with all those interested in same. Thank you!
IS THIS DEAD BODY OF A HINDU LADY OF LAHORE? – WIFE OF DEV SAMAJ FOUNDER PANDIT AGNIHOTRI.
DEV SAMAJ, a religious and social reform society, was founded on 16 February 1887 in Lahore by Pandit Shiv Narayan Agnihotri (1850-1929). The story of the Dev Samaj is in essence the story of its founder. Pandit Agnihotri was born in the village of Akbarpur, in Uttar Pradesh, on 20 December 1850. At sixteen he went to Thomson College of Engineering at Roorkee. In November 1873, he moved to Lahore taking a position as drawing master at the Government College.
His first wife died in Lahore. Two photographs of that lady, dead and surrounded by flowers are with us. There are no captions to them but they were with a book on Dev Samaj in our archives. Anybody knowing more can tell us about them. These two are also an important legacy of Lahore. Perhaps not existing anywhere else.
JACQUELINE KENNEDY, EDITH WELCH AND CHUGHTAI MUSEUM – NEW NARRATIVE TRACES THE RELATION BETWEEN ALL OF THEM.
President Ayub Khan had excellent relations with the Kennedys. Chughtai paintings were presented to them at least twice, if not more. One of them is still in the Kennedy Memorial in Boston. Chughtai artist designed the dustcover of the Urdu version of the biography of Jacqueline Kennedy. An autographed book was sent to Chughtai artist through US Ambassador David Bane. On other hand Harvard Professor, Stuart Cary Welch was guest of Chughtai Museum in 1981. We have record of same with us.
Willian Kuhn also from Boston is an avid research scholar and published a number of books as Jackie Stories. Number 8 is about Stuart Cary Welch and it includes a photograph of the Welchs at Chughtai Museum in 1981. This is to keep our readers in touch with developments in the Western world. International recognition of our efforts in preserving and promoting Chughtai is ever there.
STEREOTYPES AND CLICHES MARK REFERENCES ABOUT LAHORE – YES, TWISTING THE CITY’S HISTORY IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE: – NO SOURCE BEING LEFT FOR TRUTH BY SPREADING MISTRUTHS.
Foreign money flows in our historical narratives and it flow distorts all that is known about this city. It is our city. Our family has lived in it for more than four centuries, perhaps even more. Flow of Sikh money makes it a Sikh city, flow of Hindu money makes it a Hindu city, and flow of Western money, responsible for confusion all around. All the vendor things sold in the city is touted as unusual, a request should be made to those who project same to try same on their own. Probably full of bacteria and viruses, all those silly things can cause many loose stomachs. In addition, blood pressure as well as gastritis all around. Painting old wooden structures with layers of cheap paint, and hanging plants in lanes has nothing to do with the history of Lahore. May we even know the history of the persons to whom the lanes are credited with, nobody really knows. We do not want to be specific but a number of questions do come in mind.
Tania Qureshi writes:
Gali of Surjan Singh and the Gali Gubarchian, located in Lahore Pakistan, are interlinked and the complex is known as Koocha Charakh Garan. These are typical of the remaining historical fabric of the walled city. Gali of Surjan Singh and Gali Gubarchian have almost 23 buildings which represent the transformations in technology and architectural expressions that were affecting Lahore during the colonial period.
It is sweet and honest of Tania Qureshi that she asserts the area as of colonial period. Does it clearly show something? Not a single house of historical or aesthetic importance. A period of decadence. And hardly anyone knows the Hakeem Surjan Singh? Not even his house is there. Kanaya Lall the historian of Lahore mentions a number of Hakeems of the city, both Hindu and Muslims, but Surjan Singh does not appear in his historical account. Hype is for what? Lack luster plain houses, and unknown hakeem? I recall the chowk near the Pani wala talab, and Rang Mahal, is known as Chowk of Surjan Singh. I do not know why? But I was born in a house in the chowk of Surjan Singh and I know that well. There were beautiful houses nearby with exquisite wood carving (Swans and peacocks), as having belonged to famous prostitutes of Mughal period. Kanjri Mor-wali was not Mai Moran of Ranjit Singh’s fame, famous for her peacock dance. My negotiation did not work out and the exquisite wood carving was used as fire-wood.
Security of the city over times. A number of questions come to mind about the security apparatus of the city. The first misadventure happened around 1049 AH, when under threat, the Hindu Rajas, came together and invaded Lahore. We have detailed it in one of our research books. Various areas of Lahore faced massacre under the onslaught of the Hindu armies. Only few signs are left. One is the Ganj Shaheedain area near Kocha Chabuk Sawaran. Then there is the Mongol invasion in which Hassan Balki died defending Lahore. He is buried in Kashmeeri Bazaar. Said Mitha and his father escaped the wrath of the Mongols in Lahore. So much ruin that in era of Mubarak Shahi, there was not even one resident in Lahore. We hear of various tussles in Sultanate era, as well as Mughal period. The invasion of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali had the greatest effect, and the security of Lahore was at stake. But Lahoris were quick in adjustment. They always negotiated the safety of the city by offering endowments. The anarchy brought by the three Sikh rulers who captured Lahore and played havoc with people. Gujar Singh (son Sahib Singh), Lehna Singh (later son Chet Singh) and Sobha Singh were the curse on Lahore. Tired of their misadventures, a group of Lahore citizens invited the dacoit of Gujranwala, Ranjit Singh to get control over Lahore. As promised the Lawari gate was opened at night for his entrance of army stationed at the Baradari of Wazeer Khan. The second attempt succeeded in capture of Lahore, but not the Lahore Fort. Cannons were mounted on the top of the minarets of Badshahi masjid by removing the cupolas and cannon fire inside Lahore fort. Finally, the three Sikhs Sardars gave up and ran away, never to appear again. Although their remanent like Qilla Gujar Singh is still there. This was a brief survey and what was the security apparatus of the times.
People wonder why the lanes are so narrow in Lahore. Simply so that no group of armed riders could get inside the city and ruin the life of the people. A second precaution was that the roofs of the houses were joined together so that if residents got surrounded in one house, they could jump to other houses and escape the capture of the invaders. And most of all hidden rooms at water level in the water wells of the house, where women and children were lodged, with supply of basic flour and water to last the onslaught as well as daggers, not to fight the enemy but to kill themselves if caught for fear of being tortured and raped by hostile group of people. How many can explain this to you? A well in most houses was the security need of those times.
Lahore egalitarianism can be proven by the fact that upper class or lower-class people all lived in same area. The rich and powerful had no qualms over having poor people in their area. Racial distinction was brought in by the British when on documentations people were forced to write their castes instead of professions. Different areas were made for different classes of people. This continues to this day everywhere.
The story behind all stories is fund raising and use of funds. And the pay master is always right. He funds to get his version of truth across the board. Simple equation. May we say more?
British adjust the security of Lahore. First most of the gates were demolished in Lahore. Lanes were carved and broadened out, so that horses as well as elephants could easily enter Lahore. The Kotwali inside the city was demolished and same shifted outside in form of a new building, with newer kotwals for the city. The history of these British period Kotwals is basically boot licking and nothing more. And yet Muslim officers were preferred over other ones. There was a famous Kotwal of Lahore when Ranjit Singh entered Lahore, and he used to roam the street, with an ever-famous actual donkey as an escort. Our mission is to present the truth as we know it. It should not surprise people addicted to lobbies spready disinformation about Lahore.
P.S. A katra of famous Hakeem Buzurg Shah near the Wazeer Khan mosque would have been an ideal place to restore, with even the mausoleum of Hakeem Inayat Shah (writer of books) there. A family which consolidated the return of the Badshahi mosque Lahore to the citizens of Lahore.
A MOST UNUSUAL DOCUMENT OF MOHALLA CHABUK SAWARAN – RENT AGREEMENT WITH A WOMAN ROTI MAKER AND TANDOOR.
The year is 1909, and it is the Mohalla of Chabuk Sawaran. It is probably the house of Mian Kareem Baksh (perhaps portion not bought at that time), but his name is missing, as well as names of other persons of family. The year 1909 means that all the Chughtai brothers were mere children and had nothing to do with this agreement. Some of the names on it are Karam Din, son of Munshi Dil Muhammed (but the year means that it is not Mian Salah’s father), and strangely Karam Din signs his name in English. The other lady Roti maker PEEPO WIDOW OF KALA JEWOR has a thumb impression, as well as Nizam ud din son of Ghulam Rasool. The terms include tenancy of the tandoor, as well as conditions of eviction, when necessary. There are certain points that need to be clarified after study of same. It is an agreement between Peepo, widow of Kala Jewor, and Haji Allah Din, son of Nizamuddin Kake Zai.
The lady asserts that the decided Rs 3 per month rent will be achieved by her with great difficulty, and if the need arises, she will pay instead of cash, by offering rotis from her tandoor to the landlord. We do not think we have ever seen such an agreement before in our study. But those were difficult times and we should realize that. The agreement in our family means that this portion of the complex must have been bought later by Mian Kareem Baksh, as we understand it. Or definition lies elsewhere.
HAND GRENADES TO QUELL OPPOSITION, BY DIRECT CHARGE – AS WELL AS THROWING SAME FROM TOP OF FORT RAMPANTS.
Gun powder starts from China itself, but it spread all over the civilized world as soon as was possible at that time. Cannons of course did their job. Biggest cannons were made, as well as the famous Zamzama of Lahore. But cannons were not mobile. To charge a fort, or to quell army rising above the fort walls, hand grenades requirement was there. Atish hukas came into play. Afghanistan is full of Atish hukas of the past. But they are found in the Punjab too. Lahore has its own version of same. Many shapes and sizes. But the most bizarre is Atish hukas shape like a fish. Muslims were obsessed with aesthetics. Who could have thought that Lahoris would design their grenades in form of fishes? Yes, various designs occur in Islamic world, but fish shaped things are related to Lahore only. These are of Sultanate period and not Mughal in their nature. Probably Ghoris. Most of them are full of carvings of flames but some of them have monograms. A segment of the charging army may be represented in this way. Very little research on the subject. One book in Pakistan, by late Dr Syed Zafar Haider, but a number of books in the Western world. None has the fish Atish huka in any way. Unique, enjoy!
THE CALLIGRAPHER ABDUL BAQI HADAD OF IRAN – FATHER-IN-LAW OF USTAD AHMAD MIMAR LAHORI.
It is said of Abdullah urf Abdul Baqi Hadad (at times called Muhammed Baqi) that he had
“in recent times he had borne off the polo ball of precedence”,
among the writers of Naskh and
“had made Naskh the bride of calligraphy by embellishing and adorning it in a new manner”.
He came from Iran, had lot of students here and then went back to Iran. A famous student is Muhammed Arif who is called Yaqut Raqam a title given to Abdul Baqi Hadad by Emperor Shah Jahan. Honoured in same way by Emperor Aurangzeb. Another very important student is Nur ullah Ahmad, who in a copy of Dalail ul Khairat calls himself as Nabeera (grandson) of Hazrat Abdul Baqi. Interesting! More later.
EMPEROR JAHANGEER HAD ONE TILE MOSAIC DESIGNED ON LAHORE FORT – BHANDAR AND BAQRI TAMASHA: FOUR HUNDRED YEARS STILL SAME TODAY.
The region of Hindustan is famous for economical ways of entertaining people. Different sort of baazi-gars, performers of unusual antics flocked villages as well as cities. The walk on a tight rope, the snake charmers rope trick and others were all there. One thing which abounded then and very rare today was performances by dancing monkeys and balancing goats. It is certain that people remember the excitement of same even today, as it used to thrill children. And not a fee was asked from everyone, except those willing to throw some coins to the person. The invitation was called through a dug-dugi. The man played the dug-dugi as well as a flute to lure children out of their houses, or to watch same from the safety of their balconies in the house.
The Jahangeeri bandar tamasha is only different in his personal dress, it is same after centuries. Passed on from generation to generation in name of cheap entertainment. Perhaps Prince and Princesses got entertained in the same way in the past.