PANIC OF EARTHQUAKE DEVASTATION IN LAHORE 1904
THE FAMOUS EARTHQUAKE OF QUETTA ALSO HIT LAHORE
Fading memories of phenomenal loss in city 4th April
A magazine in London carried the news of the Earthquake in Lahore on 4th April. The magazine is dated 1905, the earthquake could have been in 1904. Maybe 1905 is also possible. We have no access to detailed record. Suffice that the event was important enough to be a news item in England of that time. That besides photographs of the devastation, even paintings were made with the Wazeer Khan Mosque in the background. Keeping the history of Lahore alive is one thing. Imagining the terror of those days is another. Lahore has certainly been a witness to the strangest things possible.
The sad part is that to this day here is no Rapid Response Team in Pakistan to such catastrophes. They happen all the time, the Army comes in, the Civilians talk loud, go for photo sessions but COMPASSION none for victims. Only people care for people. The Government sits idle in the true way of NERO FIDDLING WHILE ROME BURNT.
A RAVAN FESTIVAL IN LAHORE 1923
SUNDAY COURIER LAHORE REPORTS FESTIVAL
Not even in peoples memory today
The area in front of Lahore Fort has witnessed many things. The Minar of Pakistan stands there today, but in the same vicinity there used to be many things. Known to us as Minto Park, it housed an annual exhibition of things. Ladies of Lahore thronged there not only to see things but buy things of their choice. Regular Kite flying (Patangs) were there on holidays and the standard was the peak of Lahore. Fondness for research is there now and a student from NCA, Ms Zoya Hassan is researching a thesis on Guddi ground.
We came across a reference in newspaper magazine of France, namely Sunday Courier in 1923, with a drawing of a RAVAN FESTIVAL in Minto Park Lahore. We are told by the paper that there were 200,000 spectators to see the event. Obviously not all would be Hindus as the drawing itself shows Muslims enjoying the show too. Strangely we do not see anything like that today, but it is a thing that is there all over India, to this day, as can be seen by various images. So enjoy a page from the past!
Strangely on one side, outside Taxalli Gate Lahore was the HINDU WOMEN BURNING GROUND, where they cremated their dead Hindu ladies. People recall the smell of burning flesh in the area. On the other side was the place where Zorastarians or our Parsee brethern left their dead bodies behind for the traditional end of being eaten by birds and animals and the throwing of the remains in a traditional well, the Silent Tower of Lahore. The symbolic killing of Raven no one remembers at all.
WALL PAINTING IN LAHORE AS TRADITION, YES
LAHORE BOASTED PICTURES AND SCULPTURE ON ROOFTOPS
INFLUX OF RURAL MIGRANTS DESTROYED LAHORE’S LEGACY
The pictorial fancy was very much a part of the legacy of Lahore. I remember we used to admire Lions in bricks and choona on the roof tops of Lahore. This was a legacy of old times. Similarly pictures of Lions as well as other subjects adorned the walls of Lahore’s houses but there is little visual evidence left. Why? For nobody bothered to take care of that legacy. Obviously artists were there and they were either masons or attached to masons, as these kind of pictures required scaffolding on high walls of Lahore’s houses. Strangely this tradition goes back to centuries as we trace its origin to Turkey as well as Byzantine Empire.
In a city where lions were used in the Lahore Fort as watch dogs, what could be expected? Heroes were supposed to be lion hearted at all times. Even helmets had lions on them. It is no surprise that in diggings, bones of lions come up all the time. The historian Baiqui talks of lions roaming freely in the Jungle of what is now Sheikhupura or Shahdara. Incense burners with lion shapes all the time. Nowadays the legacy can be seen on truck walls in a similar way. Fine Arts became Folk Arts with time.
EVEN BLEAK TIMES IN LAHORE 1796 AD, YET PAINTERS THERE
SHAHBAZ BILGRAMI LAHORI MAKING ON DEMAND PORTRAITS
A rare portrait of Sardar Ilm Khan Wazir of Taimur Durrani
We do not know the present location of this work, but it is a rarest kind of work. This is before Ranjit Singh captured Lahore. It is signed as Amal Shahbaz Bilgrami and it is a portrait of a Wazeer of Viceroy of Lahore Taimur Khan Durrani, descendant of Ahmad Shah Abdalli. Of course it is a reflection of those times that the portrait is plain as well as the illumination. But in those bleak times, the presence of painters in Lahore makes some sense of our assertion of Lahore being obsessed with its pictorial legacy. Even the farman of that period addressed to Qazi Muhammed Siddique of Lahore represents the bleak times in the city.
There were great artists even in those times. Two brothers who used to live in the Chowk of Nawab Wazeer Khan, namely Elia (Ali) Naqash and Nabia (Nabi) Baksh, for lack of patronage, decided to migrate to Jammu and Kashmeer. We have in our archives some paintings on Hindu themes by Elia Naqash, but that is a different story.