THE HINDU CALLIGRAPHERS OF LAHORE;
A FAMOUS “LAHORE MAL” FAMILY OF KATIBS
Lahore was always a culture center, where in all nationalities mixed with each other. It was here that Hindu students were trained by Muslim Masters in the art of miniatures. Many famous mussawars are on record. But we have Hindu students excelling in Muslim calligraphy, both in the Arabic and Persian script. These “Katibs” made a name for themselves. Our blog is on the subject and a link is provided for the same. Here we refer to the Mal family of calligraphers of Lahore.
We have seen and heard of many manuscripts written by Hindu calligraphers, on many subjects. Mostly we come across Inshas composed by Hindu Munshis and written as well by Hindu Calligraphers. But the subject does not end here. Astronomical tracts are there too but mostly we find them in Sanskrit script and language. But these calligraphers were at many subjects, including Ilm Najoom. The most interesting is religious subjects related to Islam. We find manuscripts like Masnavi Maulana Rum, written by them. I have myself seen a two-volume huge Masnavi written by Hindu calligraphers in Lahore in times of Aurangzeb. A Quran written by a Hindu calligrapher was offered to us once. Obviously, we come across many Qitas written by Hindu calligraphers. We have in our collection a Punj Sura written by a Hindu Calligrapher in times of Emperor Jahandar Shah, who was Emperor for one year only in 1039 AH or 1713 AD.
Tracing the Hindu caste “Mal” implies relation to Bengal and Jharkhand, and although they come in terms of “Shudra”, the profession associated with them mainly is that of wrestlers and snake charmers. But attaching themselves to Mughal Courts is revealing in their development. In any case the name Lahore Mal means that this calligrapher was associated with the city of Lahore, and follower of Emperor Jahandar Shah. Jahandar Shah was imprisoned by Farrukh Siyar, and spent prison with wife Lal Kunwar. That he wrote the Punj Sura in a most unique way possible. Large and few lines to make it easy to read and easy to write.
THE ISLAMIC HINDUS OF LAHORE