THE FARRIERS OF LAHORE
ALL ABOUT HORSES AND NALBANDS
Care of horses in Lahore
The horse has always been a wanted commodity, both for personal use, as well as in warfare. But horses were loved too. People were ready to give their lives for horses. In Lahore various market for horses existed all the time. The local horses were caught and brought to town, but never fetched the kind of money, that Arab horses got here. Horses also came here from Mongolia and China, and of course Central Asia. And with these horses also came the horses experts, the specialists.
These Nalbands of Lahore knew the diseases of horses and the way to cure them. They knew the way to train them. A horse could learn to do anyhing. Under expert guidance, they became docile POLO horses and Sultan Qutub ud din Aibeg played Polo in Lahore all the time. They also became RACE horses and friendly races were held in Lahore, when there was nothing else to do. And the horses also became DANCING horses, a tradition which continues to this day. At wedding ceremonies we have the dance of horses, as well as national events like NATONAL HORSE AND CATTLE SHOW held under President Ayub Khan at Fortress Stadium Lahore.
The biggest market for horses was near the Taxalli Gate Lahore as well as outside the Delhi Gate, in the compound of Chowk Dara Shikoh. Dara Shikoh had a favourite horse by name of Sher-dil, and pictures of it exist today. The Sikhs were fond of horses too, and Ranjit Singh was ready to wage war on Afghanistan for the mare LAILA. Laila is one of the most famous horse of Lahore, and the saddle that Ranjit Singh used was in the Lahore Fort too, when it was stolen there by political persons. The reputation is that it was caught at the London Airport by British Customs. Nothing further is known.
The centre in Lahore for horse care was outside the Masjid Wazeer Khan, from where famous Nalbands conducted their business. Baba Imamuddin is a famous Farrier of Sikh times. But many of the mosques of Lahore were literally stable for horses of the Sikh Army and used as a fodder place for them. Fodder was cut in hand made machines by hand and available at many points. Even today we see them at points in Lahore. Drinking troughs of water for horses must have been there previously but were built on a brand new basis when the British took over Lahore. Some of these troughs of water are still there and very romantic. There was a famous trough of water near the Mazar of Nau-guzza of Lahore in Langa Mandi.
Many books on horses also written in Lahore, plain as well as illustrated ones. One famous manuscript made by Imam Baksh Lahori is world famous. Governor of Lahore Syed Abdullah also wrote a book on horses. Many mohallas in Lahore are named after horse riders, like the Mohalla of Chabuk Swaran, where the artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai was born on 21st September, 1897. All this history of Lahore is actually never written.
Queen Elizabeth has a great fondness for collecting art. The Queen’s collection is world famous for both its depth and content. In a visit to Pakistan, the Queen saw some paintings of M.A. Rahman Chughtai at Governor’s House Lahore. She was deeply interested and desired to meet the artist. As the artist was not available (explain later), she got a choice of some paintings, selected one and bought it. The work was entitled SPRING and it was delivered to the British High Commissioner Pakistan. We attach a report of the Civil and Military Gazette Lahore.
Later M.A. Rahman Chughtai not only presented five etchings of his to the Queen, he also sent her a copy of the famous book AMAL-E-CHUGHTAI. The Queen was gracious in acknowledging all this with her thanks. When M.A. Rahman Chughtai died on 17th January, 1975, Queen Elizabeth was one of the many Heads of State who condoled his death with us. Chughtai Museum too presented a painting to her namely THE TUTOR and it was given to the British Ambassador Laurence Pumphrey, and a ROYAL AIR FORCE PLANE took it to the Queen in England.
The Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai shortened distances between various countries and Pakistan, and brought good will for Pakistan. A tradition present Government know not how to recognize and utilize this good will in favour of a progressive and strong Pakistan.
THE ANTI-PAKISTAN MANTRA
UNDULATING HIPS AND ALCOHOL
The Indian entrapment of dumb Pakistanis
Our house is part of the idea of Pakistan. And this idea is is strong, so viable, that it scares the enemies. It not only gives them sleepless nights, it makes them sit on their pots many times of the day. Pakistan was the first step, the first experiment of the re-invigorated Islamic system, the renaissance of Islam, the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam. The Iqballian dream completed by our beloved Quaid-e-Azam and from there it was bound to go places, move forward in time. A most beautiful statement of the Pakistan idea is given by our esteemed lady Miss Shameem Ahmad. A more detailed explanation is given on the politics of Pakistan, by Mr Ghulam Ahmad Pervaiz, the Adviser on Islamic Affairs to the Quaid-e-Azam himself. It is on record that he was the only person who could walk in to see the Quaid-e-Azam without even an appointment. One can understand the kind of respect our Father of the Nation had for his adviser.
The Indian propaganda machine works on many angles, but the easiest is to entrap people in some kind of powerful position, by rewards, by offerings of alcohol, and obviously the undulating hips of their screen beauties, all the time. This Mantra is simple. We are all the same people. We are one nation. The idea of dividing India was a stupid one, not up to the modernism of the times. A thousand years of rule in India by the Muslims, and all kinds of leniency shown by the Sultans and the Kings to their Hindu subjects, but to no avail. The Muslim history is a history of documentation, the Hindu history is a history of story-telling. Tall tales abound. Take any Muslim subject. Perhaps a couple of books by Muslims, a few by Western writers, and dozens by Hindu writers. Working without any references telling tall tales even the crow will not swallow with pebbles in the water. And that dished out as the truth. For God’s sake! Come into the modern world. Falsehood is eventually out. We will continue to talk about this entrapment of dumb Pakistanis, for there are a lot of intellectual; and passionate ones, but these poor people are in the entrapment of poverty itself. Our system does not guarantee any fairness to our people. The renaissance will eventually bring revolt of the make break kind. We look forward to better times in Pakistan.
THE REALITY OF LECTURE TOURS
IMPORTANCE OF CULTURAL INTERACTION
BRAIN DRAIN OR MORAL DRAIN
A person walked in a month back and suggested that I go on a lecture tour. He said, ‘Do not waste time here. Your time means money. You have information to give, and information means money’. Such suggestions have always been there, from one society to another. No harm done. Good. People as well as nations should interact, find out about each other and then make the world a better place. I am all for it.
But when these lecture tours bending the moral values of the person being sent, to channel him through a cobweb of rewards, for services rendered. That is a different ball game and care should be taken, that for self aggrandizement, national values are never sacrificed.
M.A. Rahman Chughtai too, used to get invitations for tours abroad. Ambassador James Langley invited him on a US tour in 1958, and Columbia University was willing go finance it further, into a longer stay. In the same vein, the Russians extended their invitsation to him. In 1962, V. Titaev, Secretary, USSR Embassy wrote to him:
“May I request you to inform us whether it will be possible for you to make a trip to the Soviet Union this year and take with you some of your nice pictures to arrange an exhibition there. My sincerest gratitude for your lovely etching that you presented to me.”
Others to wished to invite him. He used to send his paintings abroad, he declined to take any invitation. Why? He knew best, but he was polite to all. He never wanted to get into any political debate or debacle. He was an artist with Iqballian KHUDI attached to him.
Robert O Jones, a senior US diplomat also tried to arrange shows in the USA. In 1977 V. Smirnov, the Russian Ambassador requested a Chughtai’s show in Moscow. Masood Nabi Noor, the Federal Cultural Secretary, on behalf of President Zia ul Haque declined the same. A hundred and one stories like these in our archives. We will pick some of them.
WHO FOUNDED ALHAMRA LAHORE?
OBVIOUSLY M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
Memory loss of bureaucracy
Chughtai Museum has always stated things backed by documentary evidence. Nowadays the evidence is the will of the Master, whoever the Master may be. Let us restate the role of M.A. Rahman Chughtai as the FOUNDER OF ART IN PAKISTAN. Not content with the position of being ‘the greatest living Master of India’ (as stated by Bombay Times itself), he wanted to do everything for Art in Pakistan. The Art Department at University of Punjab was his idea, and the first Head, Anna Molka was appointed with his consent (record there). A lot of designs were being asked from him by Liaquat Ali Khan, on behalf of the Quaid e Azam himself. The Quaid himself approved many designs within his lifetime. But this essay is not about that. There was no cultural centre in Pakistan and M.A Rahman Chughtai knew it well. A meeting was held at the house of Begum Shahnawaz to thrash out this issue, even before partition, and it came in the papers then.
Resident Director Shahnaz Arshad wrote a brochure on the foundation of Alhamra and we reproduce the first page. All these records were there, now perhaps thrown to the ‘Radi’ wala. In any case on 10th March, 1949, Alhamra was inaugurated by Governor General Khawaja Nazimuddin with a show of Chughtai’s Art works. That is all on record. The insignia was designed by Chughtai, as well as the name itself, given by him. The name personified the Modernism in a Muslim Cultural Centre, by linking it with Alhamra of Spain. One of the greatest achievements of Muslim Civilization. He was instrumental in requesting the Government to allot the place for this Centre, and on the basis of this Centre, other centres came up in Karachi, Peshawer and Dacca. And the amusing part is that even those were inaugurated with Chughtai shows, and we have documentation about them too. M.A. Rahman Chughtai was so obsessed with the giving of a special status to the Centre, that he even took plants from his home, and planted them there. A number of Mango trees were planted by him there with his own hands, and most flourished for years.
There was phenomenal Cultural Activity in Alhamra in those days. Troupes came from all over the world and performed there. And this was not done with abundant of resources, but will of the people. A comment came in a newspaper report of that period and it is on record. The journalist said that he asked Secretary Khaleel Sahafi why there was no TEA served at the inauguration when the Governor General came, and Khaleel Sahafi confessed, that they actually had no money to serve even plain tea to guests. Will power creates nations, not resources, and Pakistan is the example of same.
This show was attended by people from all over the world. A delegation of VICE CHANCELLORS from AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES was there, as well as a State Visit by the Shahenshah of Iran , Reza Pahalwi. It put Pakistan on the Art map of the world. A number of diplomats came from Karachi to attend the show. Colonel Majeed Malik of the Press Information department was doing his part of the job.
BENJAMIN H OEHLERT
US AMBASSADOR AND ART COLLECTOR
Art in the Embassy programme
I was sitting in the American Ambassador’s house in Islamabad, and the Lady Ambassador brought a can of real fresh Coca-cola. No cans were there in the market then. It was a new experience, and brought by the President of the Coca-cola company of the world, honourably appointed as an American Ambassador to Pakistan. The Oehlerts were fond of Art and collected same from all over the world. They lived in Everglades Club, Florida, USA.
At the inauguration ceremony of AMAL-E-CHUGHTAI in 1968, done by President Ayub Khan, at Alhamra Lahore, the American Ambassador had come from Islamabad to be part of same. Oehlert initiated the ART IN THE EMBASSY PROGRAMME in Islamabad, and put paintings of Pakistani Artists in the embassy itself. All this was being done to win the heart and souls of Pakistanis.
The Oehlerts kept in touch with us even after retirement, and in 1975, after the death of the artist M A Rahman Chughtai, became Honorary Adviser to our Academy of Arts, later which turned into CHUGHTAI MUSEUM. The tradition of Americans in love with Chughtai Art was very long. Many American Presidents had Chughtai Art in their collection and archives. The US Department building itself has four Art works of M A Rahman Chughtai. The Kennedy Memorial in Boston has one painting. There are many others in American archives. The Art of M.A. Rahman brought peace and good will between the two countries all the time.
The stereotype has always been there. A person betrays his country, and instead of being rewarded is finally shot dead. The Angrez Sahib retorts, TUM APNI KOM KA NAI, HAMARI KOM KA KESAY BANO GAY”. Somehow this gets stuck in our psyche as being nothing else but the truth. So when a Brown Sahib starts ridiculing our faith in ourselves as ‘MAGNIFICENT DELUSIONS’, then we have to ask about the MEAGER ILLUSIONS of others.
All unsuccessful people afraid of losing their steps n the ladder of success, end up bartering themselves, not for the greater goodness of their country, or even for the world, but petty personal gains, of the most ordinary kind. An American once wrote that ‘Pakistanis would sell their mothers’ if required., We know that no Pakistani on Earth can even think that, but yes, Brown Sahibs can, they will sell anything to move forward in their perceived notions of success. A three piece suit would do, a late night sex rendezvous with a MAIM would do too. A bloated lecture on an audience, which must be laughing their hearts out at the arrogance of the imbecile in trying to convince them of his intellectual prowess. Sitting in a long limousine, and being refused entrance to the White House can be accepted too. That has happened in the past, yes, surely! The Quran says a darkness comes in front of the eyes of certain people and they are blinded from reality.
As a young child, we grew up with Americans coming to our house all the time. Friendly Americans, and we loved them. Yes, we stood by them all the time. They talked sense and sensibility, and we related to that. American diplomats frequented the house, both at Ambassador level, as well as other levels. I myself entertained seven full American Ambassadors. We had no problems with them.
One fine day Stephen Cohen was at our door steps in a large limousine car, which had all the trade mark of being American. I dispensed with other businesses to hear this modern intellectual of the United States, a leading think tank of his time. Cohen had a list of 100 people, and my name was in it. He told me that President George Bush had asked him to make a Foreign Policy matter for Pakistan, and before that he had to get an opinion of these 100 people. I asked him., ‘Why me, of all matters?’ He said he did not make the list. The list was given to him in Washington DC itself. No harm done.
Stephen Cohen knew more about myself and my doings than I would have thought. There was homework behind him. He asked him if he could do anything for me. I knew that such a question is always a trap and my retort was simple ‘THINK GOOD OF PAKISTAN, THAT IS ALL I ASK’. He was very perplexed and said that all the people he had visited were asking for some sort of favours, like Visas and concessions and other things. Why had I no such ambition to better my life? I could only smile, and he very well understood. I loved Pakistan, and I am proud to be a Pakistani.
We believe in PEACE. We want PEACE. We will strive for PEACE. We have nothing against anybody on Planet Earth. Let us live and let live. But do not try to grind us under your feet. No one likes that. We love FREEDOM. We want FREEDOM. We assert our SELF RESPECT. Give it to us. Do not let Brown Sahibs paint a MEAGER ILLUSION of us. There is nothing meager about us. We are the proud descendants of a magnificent civilization and culture. We are the proud embodiment of the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam. With ijjtehad, we are moving our civilization forward in time. Nothing can stop us.
WHERE IS ALI HUJWERI BURIED?
A SEARCH FOR DATA DARBAR
Concealed facts about Lahore
The ride to our school was in a Lahori Tonga, and the tonga-wala Barkat used to drive it. There was a group of students all headed for Saint Anthony’s School and Cathedral Sacred Heart School, Lahore. Shahbaz Shareef was in Cathedral Sacred Heart and Nawaz Shareef was in Saint Anthonys. The eldest of our lot included two brothers Sultan and Khaleel. And it was a carriage full of students of all ages. Sultan and Khaleel were discussing a news that had come in the national newspaper then. Animal remains had been discovered in the grave of Ali Hujweri, known as Data Darbar. And scholars were talking about it. And the ultimate reference came to the Safinat-ul-Aulia, a manuscript book of Prince Dara Shikoh, in which he writes about many Saints, and in reference to Ali Hujweri, he says that Ali Hujweri is buried in the corner of the Lahore Fort, and he contributed a brand new sarcophagus to the Saint’s grave, made of chaste marble and exquisite workmanship. Then from where has come the present burial location of the Saint?
What do we get from history? Of the many books written by Ali Hujweri, only one has come down to us. In this book Ali Hujweri himself tells us that he was brought in Lahore in chains, under the instructions of Sultan Masood Ghaznavi, and he was a prisoner here. This is not second hand information, this is a statement of Ali Hujweri himself. For many centuries we find no reference to Ali Hujweri. It is Dara Shikoh who spotlighted many of the Saints of Lahore, and re-kindled interest in Ali Hujweri himself. Then we have the writings of Nur Ahmad Chisti and Ghulam Sarwar Lahori. Nur Ahmad Chisti speaks of the two festivals at the Mazar of Ali Hujweri, all celebrated in Lahore. But does not specify the location. Interestingly he says that the Mazar is near the Takia of Qutub Shah, and that all sort of dancing girls and prostitutes assemble here for the festivity, and there are Mujras of the Dancing girls of Lahore there.
It is Muhammed Lateef in his ‘History of Lahore’ who specifies the present location of the Mazar in 1896. We do not have any specifics before that, although we are told that there was hardly anything there. The new domed mausoleum over Data Darbar was constructed in 1861 by Nur Muhanmmed Sadoo and the inscription to the same is still there. A mosque was built in 1878 on older models of architecture and it is not known who built it, although claims are made by the grandson of philanthropist Rasool Baksh Tarrar, that he attached this mosque to the mausoleum. . To search for truth is a must and we know that few are bothered about it.
My cousin Ejaz Sarwar is a brave person. I am not that reckless. He can jump in the deepest well, without even thinking how he will get out of it. We are world apart in our thoughts, but have things in common. I asked him to search the Fort for clues. With a journalist card from ‘Jhang’ group it was easy for him to do many things. First he had to gain access to the storey below the present storey level of the Lahore Fort, and then he had to use a ladder to get down a deserted well of the past. In the middle of the well and obviously pitch dark, there was a ventilator, and he had to slip the ladder to the other side of the well, to get even more down the same storey. Then through a window, into other rooms, he came across the hidden grave of a Saint there. I got invitation from him again and again to traverse the journey with him, but I politely declined. He took a lot of photographs and showed them to me too. My research was not limited to foolhardiness, in the dark nooks and corners of a forgotten time. But everything pointed out to the correctness of the grave. A thousand years is equal to about thirty feet of Lahore, as assessed by us in more places than one. We have found relics of the Ghaznavid period at thirty feet below Lahore. The thirty feet is also very evident in the Lahore Fort. The Saint buried in the Lahore Fort is no less than a 1000 years old.
Of course we are not the official research wing of anybody. We do things for we love Lahore, and that is our only reason. But the question we kept on asking to ourselves. How can the grave of Ali Hujweri move from the Lahore Fort to the present site? The answer was obvious. The grave was frequented by thousands of followers of the ICON OF PUNJAB, and posed a serious threat to the security of the British troops stationed here in Lahore. How could British allow unfettered access to the grave to hordes of people? Yes the coffin could have been transported, but they would not risk that. That kind of thing was done with SAINT BILAWAL. When floods threatened his mazar, the grave was dug and his remains transferred to a new site, and that is on everybody’s record. Even Muhammed Lateef has a story about it. The same happened with the Mazar of Shah Sharaf. Around 1839, this Mazar was also brought down, and the coffin was removed from the grave and transported to another area of Lahore, Dulla wari, where it is still there in existence. So they promoted a new site and the people caught up with it. And the Mazar of Ali Hujweri came into a new site. Wrong! Perhaps. Right! Perhaps. Our job is not to prove or even disprove things. Our job is to research. The conclusions are there for anyone who wants them. It may be interesting for people to know that in the 1950s, all text books of Punjab, mentioned the burial site of Ali Hujweri in the Lahore Fort. Now that is proof for everyone.
The Mazar of Ali Hujwerei has been dug many times. When the new complex was being built, it was dug down many feet, probably even 40 feet or more. We passed it every day and were sure things would be found there. But nothing of that sort happened. There were no residues there, no pottery, no old skeletons, nothing at all. In fact near Bhatti gate, in a digging for Siemens drainage project, a host of skeletons were discovered, buried together from olden times. This was just outside the city wall. A result of either disease or dead soldiers buried together. The residents got all kind of creeps there due to them. In fact the nearby Mazar of Masoom (Bholay) Shah is indeed very below the surface of the road, and is probably even older than the same period. But the Mazar of Data Darbar did not have remains of olden times. In fact the burial place should have been 30 feet down. It was not. It was near the surface. People can obviously do research on same to discover the truth. Who knows? The truth is not self evident.
It is unfortunate that Kite-flying in Lahore was also related to the richness and poverty level of people. As very very poor children wanted to indulge in kite flying and did not have the money to buy anything, they had to find ways to get hold of kites. One way was easy, grab hold of a long TANGA (a slim bamboo stick or danda) and put a portion of thorny bush (TEENGRI) on it, and chase after cut kites in the city. This was where the first problems used to occur as obsessed with capturing kites, children used to fall prey to traffic hazards on the busy streets of Lahore. The proverbial KATI PATANG moved the Lahori boys to heightened testosterone levels of risk taking on the streets. But that was not enough.
The next way out was to CHAMOOR a cut kite. This involved flying a smaller kite and keeping it in the air. When the cut kite got near, the smaller kite would be wound with sophistication on the string of the cut kite, and both kites brought down into the hands of the most excited boy of all times. The Victor of a cut kite. Fancy techniques were involved to do this. A very simple technique for people who knew no technqiue was to put few match sticks in the first few feet of the string. With knots tied on say twenty match sticks, the snaring of the cut kite was easier. That is all that was done.
Then one day shops started selling thick heavy TANDI (a thick thread which refused to get broken) and a warped steel wire of say 10 feet in length. There were about twenty twisted wire knots in it. It was very difficult for anyone to do this himself. So there was someone who had injected the TANDI and the STEEL WIRE . These were not available merely at sophisticated KITE SHOPS. Those were sold at small general merchant stores all over the city. Buying groceries, you could buy this COMMANDO TACKLE for a little amount of money. The result the TANDI got in way of people, but the STEEL WIRES started falling on ELECTRICITY LINES. There used to be a big boom, as the electricity in Lahore tripped again and again. Somebody with a twisted piece of mind had laid the first COMMANDO SABOTAGE of kite flying in Lahore.
Was this the ingenuity of the local people? As the client addressed was a highly uneducated and poor person, this got on a big way. Nobody told the poor child the consequences of such a drastic action. And frankly he hated the rich person so much, he would not care for anyone. The first accidents happened with this commando tackle. It is for us to see who gained by injecting this ruthless and dangerous equipment in the city of Lahore. That is why we call it a RAW deal.
P.S. We are not done with this topic. There is plenty more.