A SHORT EPISODE IN LITHOGRAPHIC TRAINING OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA HEADQUARTERS IN CITY OF CALCUTTA
21ST JULY TO 4TH SEPTEMBER 1919 A TOTAL OF AROUND 43 DAYS OF ETCHING
M.A. Rahman Chughtai studied Photo-lithography at Mayo School of Arts and was later put in charge of the same department. To polish his skills, he was sent to the Photo-lithograhy department of Archaeological Survey of India in the Summer camp which lasted from 21t July to 4th September, 1919. Not having enough resources to stay in some fancy place, he was a paying guest of an inn keeper, that is a small tandoor in the city. He was in a hurry to come back to Lahore. He did not like to stay there far away from his home.
There for holidays collected Master Hussain Baksh originally from Lahore (famous artist of Agha Hashar theatre), Master Sher Muhammed and others. Chughtai Sahib was in no mood to betray his visit but he accompanied all the other artists to Shantiniketan, where they met the artist, Abanindranath Tagore. Contrary to the prior promise that his identity will not be revealed, the companions blurted out his name, when Tagore asked them about the artist from Punjab, who was publishing works in magazine Modern Review Calcutta. And that is where the FIRST CONFRONTATION took place when the Bengali Master called Chughtai Sahib Kabuli wala in a demeaning way and made jest of his large hands like an iron smith. All those morons who talk of this visit in the insulting way of perhaps Chughtai Sahib being a student of Tagore can learn much by reading about the happenings there. But that is a separate topic and we will talk about it later.
The relation with Tagores is a separate tale with its own merits.
On the compounds of Wazeer Khan mosque and the Naqashi School of Baba Miran Baksh a photograph taken with the back of M.A. Rahman Chughtai and in the distance (group of three) stands a relative Mian Abdullah and the two brothers Abdullah and Abdur Raheem. An amazing memory. Chughtai stands with a senior unrecognized but could be Fazal Din Sahaf. Then on his first marriage day with the other two grooms. Group photograph. Again so rare, obtaining it was a miracle. Then a group photograph at Mayo School of Arts, stands Chughtai artist with his brother Master Abdullah. And then a professional photograph done by a friend of his at that time. The same photograph made into a painting by another artist Mian Abdur Rahman.
Photographs keep alive images long gone and remind us that the same are necessary in the memory of keeping things alive. Enjoy!
THE IMPULSE TO ADORN NIKAH NAMAS WITH ISLAMIC AESTHETICS
TRADITION BEING REVIVED AT PLACES AND ROLE OF LAHORE ARTISTS
Ordinary people got married at simple functions, where there was nor even a written record of a marriage. People collected together and witnessed a marriage. Then when women were deprived of their legitimate rights, things started to get on record. The British period in Lahore led to registration of nikahs. Lavish displays were not for any record. The nikah namas evolved in Lahore from hand drawn documents to printed ones. Designed by various artists in Lahore. Baba Miran Baksh and his son Muhammed Hayat Naqash also used to draw these forms with traditional naqashi and were sold for around Two rupees at that time. A full fledged nikah forms business was there in Lahore with various designs for them.
Farooq Ishaq and Umar Shazad are the new designers from Pakistan. A form to treasure should be as beautiful as possible. Satanic minds in international circles are making a taboo of marriage itself and innovations to break the sacred contract are there ever more. The devil initiated concepts like SAYING NO TO HUSBAND and SAYING YES TO OTHERS. Adultery is no longer a crime in India in these new shape of things. Utter shame for any judicial system to sabotage sacred bond of human beings. And then initiating same sex marriages as a sort of romantic undertaking. It seems that Western powers want to erase the blessings of Allah on our society. The curse of Allah is not far behind Satanic minds.
A FUNCTION IN LAHORE 17TH FEBRUARY 1917 IN COMMEMORATION
KHAN BAHADUR TITLE SIRAJUDDIN PUBLISHER KASHMEERI BAZAAR
INVITATION OF YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHER ABDUR RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
Photography was a passion with Abdur Rahman Chughtai. He had got his hand on a wooden box camera and he fitted plates in it, and photographed many famous families of Lahore. Some of them still had plates he made, as well as photographs he did. In a very interesting way his specialty was colouring the black and white photographs with a spray pen of aerograph. His aerographic spray became famous in Lahore. One of his most famous work was that of an Englishman, who was Director Education in Lahore. His colouring of Dr Allama Iqbal’s work is well known.
There was a function at Jahangeer’s mausoleum in Lahore to celebrate the award of Khan Bahadur title to publisher Sirajuddin of Kashmeeri Bazaar. The artist was there in a group photograph but that went missing in time. In any case there is some record left and we can share that in time. A famous family of Mochi Darwaza too retained these plates till some time back, but when they shifted their house, we lost track of them. We do know that the son of that person used to work in united Bank Limited. If they read this. they can get in touch with us.
Lala Mela Ram was a famous son of Lahore. His factory, his house as well as his many things were left in Lahore. The Mela Ram road is still there near Data Darbar Sahib and is called Darbar road now. A huge safe was salvaged by people, which included a host of documents. Stocks worth lakhs of rupees, photographs of his family, invitation cards (including the investiture of British Kings and Queens) from London, an astro globe of horoscope, a Kama Sutra manuscript with illustrations, as well as the certificates of his proclamation as RAI and as RAI BAHADUR. Chughtai Museum just acquired these two documents for record archives, at a great cost. The resources did not allow acquisition of other objects.
The same are presented as a homage of peace from Lahore to the Hindus of India. Live in peace!
THE INSECURITY OF WESTERN SCHOLARSHIP ABOUT ISLAMIC ART OBSESSED WITH TRYING TO PROVE EUROPEAN ART INSPIRATION
AND YET WESTERN PAINTERS THEMSELVES SUCCUMBED TO AURA OF MUSLIM ARTISTS FROM REMBRANDT TO STREET PAINTERS
There is an inevitable jealousy surrounding the analysis of Western art analysts about Muslim Art. For them Western painters are supreme and the history of art starts from their domain. For centuries Chinese art, Japanese art debunked in different ways, but Indo-Pakistani art debunked most at the hands of chauvinistic art historians. Yes, there were great scholars in the Western background, but the present hierarchy of same are oblivious of achievements of regional painters. Everything has a western connotations for them.
Islamic art inspired many Western artists. Masters like Rembrandt and Bellini were struck by the beauty of Islamic art. But even ordinary things saw this effect in place. You see various western paintings with Islamic carpets in them, Islamic naqashi in their background and architecture being influenced by same too. The greatest effect we see in design of churches as well as aesthetics of bibles. We talk more about that later. Till then stop this charade of cultural hegemony. Chauvinism of inspiration taken too literally. We were not far behind but ahead at many places.
AN OFFICIAL RECORD OF RECONCILIATION OF HINDU MUSLIM NATIONS
ATTEMPTED IN COINS ISSUED AT MAHMUDPUR (LAHORE) BY SULTANS
Coins carry history which is normally forgotten. The city of Lahore had the name of Mahmudpur in the times of Sultan Mahmud Ghazni. A recollection of those times occur in the area to this day known as Mahmud Booti. The first coin struck here by Sultan Mahmud carried the legend:
Mahmud (998-1030) Silver dirham, bilingual type, Mahmudpur (Lahore) Weight: 2.81 gm., Diameter: 19 mm., Die axis: 7 o’clock
Arabic legend: Shahada followed by yamin al-daula wa amin mahmud al-milla
(Mahmud guardian of the faith), al-qadir above, billah at left
Date in the margin: AH 418 (= 1027-1028 CE) /
Sanskrit legend in Sharada letters: avyaktameka muhammada avatar nripati mahamuda
(the Invisible is One, Muhammad is the manifestation, Mahmud the king)
Very soon after that Sultan Masud the son of Sultan Mahmud 1041-1050 AD started the HORSE AND BULL series, which were carried for quite some time by the other Sultans too. The Horse represented the Muslims, the Bull represented the Hindus.
Ghaznavid control largely continued in the existing administrative system. Thus Ghaznavid coins issued in North western India have bilingual legends written in Arabic and Sharda scripts . Some carry Islamic titles together with the portrayal of the Shaiva Bull, Nandiand the legend Shri samta deva. The reference in the latter remains ambiguous . A dirham struck at Lahore carries a legend in the Sharda script and a rendering in colloquial Sanskrit of the Islamic Kalima.
A thousand years gone and except for limited times, no reconciliation took place. The Muslims were broad minded enough to be large hearted. That is why millions embraced Islam. We see the same relevance today as both nations are still at war with each other. Give peace a chance! Shanti Maharaj Shanti! Be calm seek tranquility.
Muslims came into this region long long time ago. Arab traders were here even before Islam, and they mixed well in the environment. Ancients mosques existed here. Some of them still exist here. In 982 AD the author of HUDUDAL ALAM states that all the inhabitants of Lahore were idolaters and there were no Muslims here. But Fakhri i Mudahhabir states that Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi built a separate Mohalla here for Muslims and it was called Arab Mohalla and he built a mosque of bricks here called Khusti Masjid, which was a marvel in its age.
“FAḴR-E MODABBER, pen-name of Moḥammad b. Manṣūr b. Saʿīd, entitled Mobārakšāh, author of two prose works in Persian written in India in the late 6th/12th and early 7th/13th century, a book on genealogy with no formal title and the famous Ādāb al-ḥarb wa’l-šajāʿa”.
A segment of Hindu population got along well with them, and there were Hindu Generals in the Ghaznavid army itself. Hindus predominated the Mughal Army too. Many got along well with benefits and a certain segment remained allergic to them as they were two nations even then.
THE ATTACK ON LAHORE (1043-1049) MARTYRDOM AT ITS BEST. A memory of national resolve. GANJ SHAHEEDAIN OF LAHORE. In the year 435 AH (1043 AD), the Raja of Delhi was able to rally other Hindu Rajas to accost and drive the Muslims out of India.
Lahore has seen many attacks on its soil. This was the first important one. The 1965 one when an Indian General proclaimed that he would have his peg (alcoholic drink) in Lahore Gymkhana. And he never got there, thanks to our valiant Army. Today the Army of Pakistan stands to defend our country again, from terrorists who cannot forget the prejudice of 1200 years. Rewriting history and hybrid war cannot erase the complex from the mind or soul.
THAT BIGOTED RELIGIOUS AND LIBERAL SECULAR FANATICS
DOING WRONG TO OUR ISLAMIC VALUES AND WELL BEING
Most of Pakistan is composed of Muslims, who believe in Allah and his Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), and attest to the finality of the Prophet (PBUH). And yet there is a small minority of bigoted religious as well as liberal secular, whose only work is to undo the Identity of the nation. Some are purchased to do so and some are merely foolish in their own rights. The enigma start when they quote traditions and there are always other traditions which are averse to same traditions. It ends nowhere. At the death of our Holy Prophet (PBUH), it was wisely said by Hazrat Umar, that the man who was our Prophet is dead, but his message is ever alive in the book he has left us. Hold on to the Quran and you will never go wrong. Out foolishness is in diluting the Quranic concepts with other ideas. Anything which will negate the Quran whatever its source would be absolutely wrong. Remembering that Islam is not a religion but a DEEN, a way of life, with laws of harmony.
We know that Raja Jaipal after having been defeated by Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi committed suicide. And proudly claimed that as Rajputs they would put their loved ones to the sword and then end their own life. One segment of the readers think of it as a brave act, others scorn at the foolishness of the Raja. No Muslim can think like that, and spurn it as a defeatist attitude. Sultan Jalaluddin Khawarizm escaping the wrath of the Chengiz (Temujin) Khan, jumped into the river Indus on his horseback. Again interpretations differ. For instance Salman Rashid calls him a coward, while others praise his bravery at risking his life against all odds by jumping into a raging river, and looking forward to equalizing things. Mere interpretations. No one knows the truth of what was said but the facts are the same for both view points. Obviously you will judge an event with your own background. Raja Jaipal has plenty of followers in even our own delinquent liberals, but judgement is a point of view only. At one time, and one person, views will continue to differ with impunity. Our favourite past time is belittling our own heroes and our own history. Correcting same without facts and then putting own interpretations as facts is a childish game. Every time has its own value. In our times we should be responsive to other values of different times. Interpretations is a developing game.
Divergent points of view can be tolerated where no harm ensues out of that. Yes it is good to disagree without being disagreeable, but again a point arise where the same stops. For example an arsonist about to set fire to a house has to be stopped at all costs. Here divergent respect stops to practical interference. Islamic civilization has a set of values dictated by the Quran. There are Quranic laws which have to be respected for social harmony. The drive towards anarchy is welcome nowhere.
PRESIDENT ISKANDER MIRZA SPONSORS COLLOQUIUM OF ISLAMIC SCHOLARS
REMARKABLE MOVEMENT FOR ISLAMIC REFORMATION 29TH DECEMBER 1957
Major-General Iskander Mirza was from East Pakistan, a Bengali brethren of ours. Not much importance is given to his period of rule and his period is regarded as that of anarchy. And completely forgotten is an attempt for Islamic reformation with an international meeting of Islamic Scholars in Lahore on 29th December, 1957. This movement was spearheaded by Muhammed Asad the great Islamic scholar of the century. Islamic scholars were invited from all over the world and they stayed at Flatteis Hotel Lahore. We do not have a list of all of them (we are trying to get a copy of Islamic Colloquium papers published by University of Punjab in 1960) or even images of the occasion, but a person of that period preserved a photograph done at Madarassa ul Binat, Mozang in Lahore, and mentions one scholar as Dr Sethi. This was an event organized by University of the Punjab. We are proud to give this rare and torn photograph for lovers of ijthehad in Islam. Some of the papers read at the same were published by University of the Punjab under the heading International Colloquium Papers but the publication skipped the mention of Muhammed Asad. Obviously sabotage was done to this event spearheaded by a religious orthodox party, who had no interest in the progress of Islam which was not in their hands.
Remembering those stalwarts like Muhammed Asad and G.A. Pervez gives us a new lease of life. We will add more information with time and for the present you can read the beautiful article on the meeting by a scholar Dr Zahid Munir Amir, and the link is this: