THE START OF PORTRAITURE IN ISLAMIC PAINTING; THE CLIMAX OF PORTRAITURE IN ISLAMIC PAINTING: THE PORTRAYAL OF SULTANS IN PERIODS OF TIME.
Figurative works were there in the first Islamic coins. Most famous are the Caliph coins, just a few decades after inception of Islamic life. The figurative coins were in vogue, when upset started with religious fanatics trying to railroad modernism in approach at that time. This aesthetic fight generated carries on still in the shadow of Mulla’s, which has nothing to do with the Quran. More than a thousand years ago images of Suwar ul Kawakeeb penetrated Islamic manuscripts. But portraiture was still lacking in spirit.
Fatimid painting spearheaded the growth of figurative work. In 1180 AD, during the reign of the Sultan, we have miniatures of Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi. It is a magnificent portraiture done in the life time of the Sultan. Sultan was on throne at that time. The craze for portraiture went on for centuries. We can surely reproduce many of them. But it ends in our life time with M.A. Rahman Chughtai. He is responsible for lots of portraitures, at times imaginary, but always with focus on that period, including ethnicity costumes and lay out etc. A portraiture relevant to the times of the figure undertaken by him. So, enjoy start to evolution of portraitures. So obviously we will talk more of this historical evolution of aesthetics. The most amazing discoveries are presence of sculptures of Caliphs in the main city square like the cities of Samarra. More on that later. Enjoy!
HEROES AND VILLAINS MADE BY LOBBIES ALLERGIC TO OBJECTIVITY; THERE IS CULTURAL SIDE OF MIR MANNU GOVERNOR OF PUNJAB.
Often two civilizations are actually not at war. It is the representatives of civilization at one given time which involve themselves in atrocious acts. If we study regional history, the Sikhs and Muslims have their ups and downs. Many times indulged in unimaginable acts. Not ways of life but groups of people at one given time. But writing about such things in objectivity is really not possible, because history writing is not always in hands of sane people. War mongering is the name of the game. Fancy stories are fed. This is story of the Sikhs and Muslims in the 18th century. But E.M. Forster in his letters write of the conflict in 1783, which is very near the events that are spoken by historians. The most atrocious events are blanked in one party forays alone.
” The Siques….. they besieged… they took the city of Lahore…committed violent outrages. The mosques that had been ever rebuilt or restored to use by the Mohammedans, were demolished with every mark of contempt and indignation; and the Afghans in chains, washed the foundations with the blood of hogs.”
In response what would happen? The same kind of treatment, if not less but even more. Whereas stories of Mir Mannu are painted as facts when many are just fancy fairy tales, Sikh historians fail to write their own failings in sequence. It is not for us to write all the misgivings, but few blatant truths. In the so-called paradise of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the Muslims were not even allowed to say their prayers as “Azan” was not allowed. It was British who impressed upon Maharajah Sher Singh to restore same. About 3000 Muslim buildings such as mosques and monuments were ruthlessly destroyed. This is history not accusations. And what happened to trains and Muslims coming back to Pakistan is history in itself. Literally slaughtered. But Sikhs are emotional people (easily riled up), and so are we. We too have the capacity to forget and forgive. Let gone be bygone and start anew. It has not always worked, but one has to keep on trying in good faith. No alternative to peace and co-existence.
But this is not a political dialogue. It is to approach the personality of Mir Mannu, Governor of Punjab in the cultural context. For some very important years, he was the ruler of the region, and all these petty States came under his direct rule. That Mir Mannu was held in esteem is known from the number of portraits made of him by various artists. Verses written on miniatures praise his victories and lament his defeats. Indian scholars are adept at distorting history with innuendoes. Mention is hazardous to them. But one picture made at the Darbar of Mir Mannu beats them all. A pair of foreigners sexually attack dancers at a party thrown by Mir Mannu. An inscription calls them Europeans. However, the caps look Russian. Both young men have different colour complexions. Frilly hair styles. Both wild with sexual frenzy and Mir Mannu laughing at their follies. The Court amazed at this reaction too. Part of a group of paintings now lost.
Bought in Lahore by a European traveler in 19th century. Probably sold by first antique dealer of Lahore, Bahadur Shah. The dealer who used to supply things to Western museums. There is a family in Lahore, descendent from Mughalani Begum, and they have many documents about that period of time, as told to me by late Asghar Amritsari. Rarely followed. History is an ongoing process of time. Record and omit are lessons of life.
The death of Mir Mannu is lamentable. Seen as an obstruction, he was poisoned to death. He fell from his horse, dead, and his upper torso had gone all black. The food he took before that. And other lament Hira Singh had his bones removed, and the skull of Mir Mannu was placed on his gutter (mori pay rakh deya), so that filthy water would wash the heroism of the valiant son of Punjab. All these things are concealed with time by historians. One version has it that his body was buried in Cognito in the graveyard of Hazrat Eshan. The proclaimed tomb housed the alcohol shop of Gurdit Singh. Who knows? No one even wants to know. Tell us myths, we will believe them. As time passes heroes become villains and villains become heroes. Allah knows best!
FROM THE FAME OF TAFSEER HUSSAINI OF HERAT, TO THE MATALIB QURAN OF G.A. PERVEZ OF LAHORE
“Mawahib i aliyah” often known as Tafseer Hussaini is commentary composed between 897 A H and 899 A H, and dedicated to the famous Mir Al Sher Nawai, was done by Kamal ud din Hussain son of Ali Waiz Kashfi, who was Imam of the Jamia Masjid in Herat. This Tafseer Hussaini caught on with the people of this region and was used in most houses as well as Madrassas in our region. He died in 910 AH/1499 AD. A world figure himself, he was brother-in-law of the famous Maulana Jami of Herat, an additional prestige to his name. In all cases manuscripts of Tafseer Hussaini are in abundance and were much loved and respected in Lahore too. Chughtai Museum has prestigious copies of it too.
There were tafseers written here earlier too, but those never became popular. Ghulam Ahmad Pervez was a revolutionary thinker of his own times. He lived in Delhi and from there he settled in Karachi, and finally moved to Lahore. He was an ardent student of the Quran and left in his own legacy, not a translation but an interpretation of the Quran, which was so much attractive to thinkers of our own times. Not many people know about the same but whoever has a thinking mind, gives credit to G.A. Pervez for making the Quran as a reference itself, in line with the introduction of Dr Allama Iqbal to take Islam in its original pristine value, instead of looking at the Persianized version of the same. Go to the Arabic context itself. This work is certainly a work of the future and will be attractive to people, once they get rid of the Mullah element in casting conspiracies about every aspect of Islam.
There is a manuscript of Tafseer Hussain written in Lahore by Lutufullah Ahmad Muhandis in his last days in two volumes. It has the seal of Muhammed Abid, another son of Lutufullah Ahmad Muhandis. More on this later. Till then enjoy!
MANIPULATING HISTORICAL RECORDS INTO DIFFERENT VERSIONS; YES, LOH SON OF RAM CHANDAR NO WHERE IN HISTORY OF LAHORE.
It is very romantic to speak of the twin cities of Lahore and Kasur and link them to perhaps two brothers Loh (actually Lava) and Kasu (actually Kusa), son of the legendary god Ram Chandar of Hindu religion. Certainly, Loh is remembered as the son of Ram Chandar, but little is known of a brother Kasu. This Lahore idea was first floated by a Hindu writer Munshi Sujan Rai perhaps in 1691 AD (the amazing fact is that no old manuscript is known, and when it covers 40 years of Aurangzeb’s reign, all manuscripts have date of death of Aurangzeb too (years later), and the earliest manuscript is dated 1168 AH or 1754 AD and even that has some missing and replaced pages, and even more amazing of the five manuscripts known, not one has his name in it) in Khulasatul Tawareekh, as compared to simple statement of Lahori writer Ahmad Zanjani in Tuhfa Sawaleen in 1043 AD (648 years previous) which ridicules this conjecture. But nowhere was mentioned that his Mandir exist in the Lahore Fort. No mention of same even with Kanhaiya Lal in 1884, and up to the best of my knowledge it was Judge Muhammed Latif in 1892 AD, who narrated the existence of Mandir, and speaks of it being in a deep hollow which is descended by wooden stairs. Or rather ladder if you call it. Not very clear really. Made to mention but no image in his book.
Mian Muhammed Fauq is a well-known historian of our region and has written on Lahore too. Rare to find his books, we come across the in different conditions. But very strangely there is a strange mention in his book on Lahore, related to the Lahore Fort. Let us translate what he has to say in understandable terms:
“Besides the mosques in Lahore Fort, there is a Mandir in the fort, that even today proves the bigheartedness of the Mughals Emperors, This Mandir is in a space with a huge pit in it. It is said that this pit is that of Raja Loh, son of Raja Ram Chandar, who is responsible for making New Lahore. The level is same as the Fort, there is a reason for it that it is very old and Mughals left it intact. In reference to this Mandir, the society Sanatan Dharm Yudah Salba were having letters communication with the Government. So on 11th December, 1923, members of Yud Sahba, and Superintendent of Archaeology went to see the same, and this area was covered with debris, the same area was cleaned from all sides. Cleaning the Mandir or Samadh, and one can see a dilapidated dome (gum band) and under two feet one could see leaves and earth all around. This two feet deep one could see a flower. Its level is same as that of Hazuri Bagh. After cleaning and digging, on 13th December, 1923, there were discovered bones of hands which at present generation comparison, were very large, and the face had very sharp teeth which were also discovered there. After studying them it seems that at that time, humans were much taller and stronger at old days. These bones were taken into possession by Sanatan Dharm as being the bones of Loh, son of Ram Chandar. However, the Department of Archaeology thought that these bones were of pre-Buddhist times of some extra ordinary large person. “
Ahmad Hasan Dani, a world-famous scholar said the same in different terms:
In 1973 the legendary scholar of Pakistan Ahmad Hasan Dani delivered a lecture on “Al-Beruni” in the city of Kabul. Amazing that Kabul is seen as hosting a Pakistani scholar. But Kabul was a city of intellect and arts for a long time. Not surprising that it happened then. Dani Sahib in his erudite way explains everything. His dismisses the so-called connection of Loh son of Ram with Lahore and we attach the paragraph on same. Worthy of being read. But most interesting he isolates different Lahores and capitals and names. And he says that the city was founded near the river IRAWATI (present Ravi), and that is why it was called IRAWATIAWAR. It was later modified with use as RAVAWAR. He says Panini’s grammar tells us that RA and LA are interchangeable grammarian words, and that is why we have the word LAHAWAR, or presently LAHORE itself. Lahore is simply by tradition CITY ON RAVI.
If this had existed in Emperor Jahangir’s time, he would have built a grand mausoleum over it. It was certainly not a prehistoric structure and nor could one call it a Neanderthal grave. It was a combination of Sikh and British architecture for the various bricks used were of Sikh and British period. The Dome was naturally a poor fluted melon dome of the late Sikh period. It was so small in structure with a circular window on opposite end that it actually looked merely like a small well. The depth of the inside was not comprehended, and the inside floor was closed too. No one could enter it nor lit anything over it. No lingam there. It had no match with any Mandir in the world. But it was asserted as Mandir of Loh, thousands of years old. The structure was not even 150 years of age. Everybody wanted to jump to their own conclusions. The pressure of international lobby of Sanatan Dharm, founded by Bhadashi Maraj in Trinidad and Tobago in 1881, was very evidently there. The Hindu lobby was asserting itself.
Every day science is discovering missing links in human evolution. Very recently the DRAGON SKULL came out of China, and scientists excited over a new link to human story. One does not know what happened to the bones taken by Hindu lobby, but if there one could trace its DNA and finish once for all this absurd story about LOH and KASU related to Lahore. A silly hypothesis without any proof of any kind. And the amazing part is that these are the two same sons who fought with their father for questioning the fidelity of their mother after return from Shri Lanka. People do not read history, just follow directions of foreign lobbies.
DEATH AND BLINDING OF TEN THOUSAND MUSLIM MONGOLS, LAL MAHARA MAUSOLEUMS INSCRIPTIONS MONGOLIAN SCRIPT.
The history of Mongols in India is diverse. We find them attacking India and facing heavy odds here. But certain chapters are missing from usual enquiry. That Sultan Jalaluddin Khilji was kind to them, and welcomed their conversion to Islam. Delegation from Tabrez Al-Khanid was a success. Allowed to trade in the outskirts of Delhi, they were given charge of four villages in Sarhad area. All this is on record. After the death of Sultan Jalaluddin Khili, they faced different situations under Sultan Allauddin Khilji. Faced with suspicions and held in contempt too, Allauddin Khilji was persuaded to blind and assassinate ten thousand of them. It was a BLOOD INCIDENT, that is the incident of LAL MAHARA. The graveyard exists to this day, and it is the last homage to those Muslim Mongols who were martyred here on this soil.
Dr Taj Ali is a great Islamic Scholar, now retired from the University of Peshawar. He studied the Lal Mahra monuments in great depth and he had an idea that there was epigraphic evidence on the monuments themselves. He wrote this to his German university requesting research and clarification. The University was not in a position to know and this epigraphic evidence was termed as mere pseudo epigraphic evidence. Language not known or deciphered. Fortunately, I have been studying Mongols too for some time and their first great book THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE MONGOLS in Mongolian script. And I realized the Mongolian script is the actual script on the Lal Mahra monuments. It will require diligent research and a Mongolian expert to do all this but it can be done. Arghaun Khan grandson of Halaku Khan was slaughtered along with his nobility. He was even husband of a daughter of Sultan Jalaluddin Khilji. That is a brother-in-law of Sultan Allauddin Khilji. It was not possible to throw these royal bodies into dust heaps. After all they were Muslims too. Even the symbol of LAL LAGATAR can be easily understood as CONTINUOUS BLOODSHED. A reappraisal is required by scholars on our important history.
Must read: Sultan Allauddin Khilji by Dr Ghulam Sarwar Khan Niazi.
MARK COOPER STRONG FEELINGS FOR SAFETY OF CHUGHTAI MUSEUM; ARCHERY EXPERT ALSO WISHES WOLVERHAMPTON TO MAKE MUSEUM.
Chughtai Museum is effort of father and son for nearly 100 years. Sixty years of Chughtai’s effort and decades of effort of his son. And ruthless politicians without even an iota of ideological wellbeing, aim to acquire rich properties at all costs. The land was bought by the artist in 1960, we got it cleared at great effort in 1997. From 2008 we face the wrath of a ruthless Government of Punjab. Instead of helping us in anyway, the plan to take our hard-earned property for NATIONAL GOOD remains there.
Pakistanis are least concerned about culture and museums. How many museums have come out in Pakistan? Most were made by the British. The ones that people tried to make were destroyed by bureaucracy, like the Fyzee Rahamin Museum in Karachi. So many galleries were destroyed too. Zubeida Agha’s efforts gone with the wind. Indus Gallery of Ali Imam no more in work. Moyene Najmi’s effort gone in vain. Only those have survived who came to terms with people in power to share the spoils of cultural war.
Whenever we are in trouble, foreigners are concerned and they try their best to help us. It is not a long list but the concern is very genuine. A United Nations Police Officer posted in Pakistan wrote a thesis on cultural destruction in Pakistan and mentioned us in same. Mark Cooper, who is an archer of Wolverhampton, always write to us for our welfare. He himself wants to build a museum there, and even the English in power, refuse to see his point of view. But we love him from the bottom of our heart. He keeps our faith in humanity alive. A nun in an American church prayed for our wellbeing. A grandson of a famous educationist tried his best from the USA to save us. It is not time for details but for feelings of concern which matter. In 1975, Nelson A Rockefeller, Vice President of USA, wrote to us about our plans and said:
“It is indeed a great loss to you and his family, and to Pakistan., which for so long was able to claim him as one of its most outstanding artist. I do hope that you or the nation have plans to preserve his work in a suitable memorial.”
A suitable memorial we have tried to do. Let us see if someone helps us or not.
LOST LEGACY OF IN LAWS AND PROSPECTIVE IN LAWS, OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI, WORTHY OF BEING RECORDED.
According to the traditions of the time, Abdur Rahman Chughtai was married to his relative, Wazeer un Nisa in 1911, when he was about 14/15 years old. The family was an old Chughtai family of Lahore, living outside Masjid Wazeer Khan. That family was of Bindri-gars as such with artistic traditions. The great grandmother, namely Imam Bibi of Wazeer un nisa, was a direct relative of Chughtai Sahib. The lady died in 1966 in Lahore. It was reputed that she attained an age of 120 years and had seen the parade of Maharajah Kharrack Singh in her life time. This happened outside Masjid of Wazeer Khan and Kharrack Singh’s elephant got bogged down in mud after heavy rain. The parents were Mian Muhammed Chughtai and Khairunnisa (otherwise Baybay).
In his visit to Europe in 1932, Chughtai Sahib, was attached to Elza Huiffner, and if conditions had been otherwise, it would have resulted in a marriage, but it never happened. However, the artist remained attached to her all his life. Elza Huiffner had an unsuccessful marriage and migrated to the United States, where her daughter survives as an individual artist. Not much is known about them, for they prefer to remain incognito for their own reasons. A grand daughter (probably) did call here also with a hidden identity. The mother Mrs Huiffner does not look like a typical German lady, although her overly tanned face must be due to stay in a sunny place. There are signs of a removed necklace, where the tan did not work.
In 1944 Chughtai Sahib was married to Kishwar Iqbal Bano in Amritsar. We have already written about the same. A wedding enquiry which went to a house in Amritsar to a Railway family was refused by those people, with demands that the artist could not meet. Bhou Din Muhammed also from the Railways invited Chughtai Sahib to his own home. There Ayesha Bibi met the artist and was very impressed with him, and muttered that her cooperation will give a legacy to this handsome and famous man. She was instrumental in the acceptance of the marriage proposal, which got solemnized on 13th December, 1944. The journey which ultimately resulted in the legacy of M.A. Rahman Chughtai.
MOST FUNNY VIDEO ON ART CRITICISM AND VINCENT VAN GOGH; CAN DIE LAUGHING AND ALSO THINKING CLUES OF CIVILIZATION.
AN EXPERIMENT WITH CHUGHTAI ART WITH VILLAGERS
After seeing the tribal experiment of tribals with Van Gogh, I remember we experimented with Chughtai Art with similar type of villagers in a mela of illiterate people. We threw a print of Chughtai art in the midst of a group of such people. We threw it from a nearby high point. The print flew to the ground, and a child rushed to pick it up. He showed this to his mother, and the mother saw it. Then she folded it and put it safely in her clothes. That is, she enclosed it in her bosom. It was an amazing sight. That spoke of Ideology of Pakistan, Islamic art and Chughtai art. Art that is understood by all kinds of people. From illiterate to the professional critic. Well done, Chughtai Sahib!