A TILE MOSAIC OF LAHORE FORT HINTING EMPEROR JAHANGEER – PERHAPS, PERHAPS NOT, BUT EXCITING TO DISCOVER SUBJECTS
The personality of Emperor Jahangeer is stupendous. The various manuscripts of his memoirs Tuzuk Jahangeeri reveal a full bloodied man, famous to this day for his sense of justice. A man of war and a man of peace. A conservator par excellence. Love of plants and animals his passion of life. Unfortunately Western and Hindu scholars pick and choose, rejecting what they do not like as false and other things as the truth. Even the account published by Major Price they do not like, for in it Emperor Akbar died reciting the Kalma, proving his political tactics in confusing the other religious priests and pundits. And the assassination of Abu Fazl proving the detest held by Jahangeer in confusing his father, with reputation of him being a freemason. In all ways Jahangeer fascinates us even today.
The tile mosaics on the Lahore Fort were never properly studied. One reason was the absence of historical narrative on it. The other they were high up, and out of observable sight of scholars. Also much damage was done to them with passage of time. Now subject of conservation, things are coming out. As usual some writers are at the confusing game again. Wrong attributions are still being given. First hand observations can not be substituted by versions of others. We will talk about that too. Here we are looking at three tile mosaics in pattern of portraits of Jahangeer. Probably not the Emperor, but who can say? Here the figure not only holds the matchlock musket (?) but also three ball shots (looks like a peeled banana, or even a flower bunch but that has no correlation with figure) in his hand. Another point to note is that courtiers and army chaps carry matchlocks on right side, but Jahangeer carries them on his left side, as seen in the two portraits. Analysis will take more time, but worthy of being looked at again and again. Scholars will dissect each and everything.
The second image the figure holds a cup of wine in a very peculiar position. It reminds us of the coin of Jahangeer in which he holds a cup of wine. And thirdly a figure holding a sword in a royal manner. Obviously the puzzle game is not rewarded at the end with answers. Knowledge reinforced with instinct calls it the day. Mostly today’s analyst lacks feeling and misses the rapport of long ago. Our job is to look at things with not merely insight but love and compassion. Analysis delights us. P.S. Two kind of guns. One with a gun horn for loading powder; the other a ball shot, loaded from the front of barrel with a loading stick.
A MENTION OF COFFINS OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI AND SHAKIR ALI – VERY STRANGE DISCUSSION IN A LECTURE AT LITERARY FESTIVAL LAHORE A programme mentions a discussion on three artists; M.A. Rahman Chughtai, Shakir Ali and Sadequain. As usual with our commentators a reference to tradition and modernism. The whole world of art calls M.A. Rahman Chughtai, Modern Master of Muslim Civilization. In fact Jacob Baal-Teshuva, UNO Art correspondent, refers to the confusion generated in Pakistan, by reference to Chughtai as a traditional painter, when he is a completely Modern Contemporary painter. This discussion is not the scope of this write up. It is a reference to a strange discourse there, about the size of coffins of Chughtai and Shakir Ali. This was related to me by Ms Mussarat Chughtai, who was sitting in the audience.
I never attended the funeral of Shakir Ali. I know about his death. On the death of M.A. Rahman Chughtai on 17th January, 1975, a memorial meeting on Chughtai was held at YMCA on 18th January, 1975. There Shakir Ali got emotional when he said, “If they have done this to Chughtai, what will they do with me?” Unfortunately he had a heart attack and was rushed to hospital. He never recovered and died a few days later. Some issues concerning his funeral were there but I do not know the details.
The Chughtai family requested a national place for the burial of M.A. Rahman Chughtai. He was lowered in the streets, through small stairs, by his family and friends. He was placed in a cot on the pavement. From there a van carried him to Miani qabarastan, for an AMANATAN BURIAL, in the enclosure section of Railway Chughtais . For that purpose a wooden casket was bought from the market, and he was buried in that casket. It was not an unusual big casket, just a normal sized ready made one. I do not think there are many people alive who were at the funeral. Most of the well known ones are dead,including many of his relatives and friends. Who would remember the size of his coffin, not even those who said funeral prayers? But I was there through out. A reference was spoken that if Chughtais coffin was a big one, why could not Shakir Ali coffin be a big one too! Absolutely childish and worthless comment on two big artists of the country. Who said it, I do not know. Was the size of the coffins issue of any one actually? Not at all. There is a reference about the grave of Shakir Ali being designed by Kishwar Naheed, who had her verses written on same. More than that we do not know. A world of differences exist between the two artists. Shakir Ali in his own words refute artists with nationalistic concepts. Some how or the other the allergy to Pakistan remains with such people. M.A. Rahman Chughtai on the contrary was obsessed with the nationhood of Islam. A large difference between the two, but certainly the size of coffins was not one of them. Utter confusion here!
A TRAIL FROM THE PAST, A TRAIL TO THE FUTURE: TRACING REMNANTS, AND PUTTING A BLUE PLAQUE TO ANCESTRAL HOME OF CHUGHTAI ARTIST CONGRATULATIONS TO MS FAUZIA QURESHI FOR INITIATING IMPOSSIBLE
On 17th January, 1975, the death of M.A. Rahman Chughtai shattered a lot of concepts in my mind. Year after year I began to realize that both the Governmental structure at federal or provincial level is managed by hidden forces, allergic to Ideological developments in Pakistan. It started from the day one and is there to this day. All individuals who subscribe to the Ideals of Pakistan are pushed towards oblivion. Massive financial backing is there for such anti Pakistani forces as well as the movement in the corridors of power. Even the Heads of State suffer from the same. Any shift to positive work, and their term begins to vanish in thin air. In the times of President Zia ul Haque, the Birdwood road in Lahore was named after Abdur Rahman Chughtai. Indeed a road without any link to the artist. There were three signboards in it announcing the name of the road. Very soon the outside sign was obliterated. I with my own expense went with a painter and had it written again. Then something more drastic happened. The whole signboard was stolen or taken away. This happened on the other side too. Perhaps the middle one is still here. Then one minister has it written on his gate. No fanfare is given to the road. Advertisements still announce it as Birdwood road, Lahore. No one cares. Honouring national icons is considered a worthless venture.
In 45 years we have held various seminars and exhibition shows, not less than 60 at our premises. I have yet to hear of any federal or provincial level organization to even remember the date 17th January, or any other. Real journalists used to write about him in leading newspapers. PTV used to cover him regularly, even some other media outlets. But no one in governmental structure cared or wanted to do anything (amazing President Zia ul Haque was the only one who actually cared, and tried to do things). It seems the structure is not concerned in any way. But we held on, facing opposition we could not even imagine we would have to face. So when Ms Fauzia Qureshi called on us with the objective of putting blue plaque on the house of M.A. Rahman Chughtai. We were happy but we were surprised. The Wall City authority led by Ms Tania Qureshi wrote a write up about Lahore’s personalities as well as Kocha Chabuk Sawaran, and the name of Chughtai was missing even at this level. Of course I cannot blame Tania Qureshi, as she is reputed to be with a lot of knowledge, but then who blackened out the name of Chughtai from the list. We do not know. But we do care.
On 23rd February, 2020 a grouping will be held at food street, and caravans will be dispatched on Pink Rickshaws to various parts of the city, including the ancestral house of M.A. Rahman Chughtai in Kocha Chabuk Sawaran. Little remains there but things are still remembered. It was not only a place where the artist was born it was a place where people from all over the world came. Imagine foreigners walking in the thin lanes of the city, and asking for the house of the artist. Also imagine the time in Chughtai’s studio with no electricity and the artist working with the light of a plain lantern. This was the reason that the Minister of Education of the British Government denied the knighthood suggested for the artist and replaced it with the Khan Bahadur award in 1934. Financial circumstances suggested otherwise. Older times are not known, but in 1759, the house was worth Rs 50 Ahmad Shahi (Abdali). In 1858 it was worth Rs 500 British Indian. And perhaps around Rs 20,000 in 1920. But during this period it dwindled into 25% of land due to portions being sold by other descendants, or death of ones. We will cover it more soon. The spiritual blessings of around eight to ten generations are there in this small place even today. Allah bless their souls!
A ONE MAN SHOW OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI IN LONDON 1966 COMMONWEALTH INSTITUTE ATTEMPTED SABOTAGE BY INSIDERS
Field Marshal Ayub Khan was very fond of artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai and inaugurated many of his paintings show. A visit of the President of Pakistan was planned in London and the reception at the Commonwealth Institute to be attended by the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II herself. President Ayub Khan proposed a Chughtai’s show at the London venue, to be attended by himself as well as the Queen. This was supposed to be on 24th November, 1966, as everybody new.,
There were people in the concerned Ministry, who held resentment for President Ayub Khan. And similarly they did not like the Art of Chughtai to receive host of publicity in western art circles. Order of Ayub Khan could not be circumvented, but a trick was played by administration. President Ayub was to attend a function at the same place and the Chughtai show was to be at the Commonwealth Institute on 24th November, 1966. At the last moment a change of plans was made and the show was scheduled from 15th December 1966 to 8th January, 1967. S.K. Dehlavi the Pakistan Ambassador knew all this well and told me many stories when I was in Bonn, Germany in 1976. A lot of state secrets were told to me.
In any case the Show was held and although well attended, did not please the artist and he reprimanded concerned, that a place like London, has the capacity for lakhs of visitors, and the attendance was below normal. However the case is on record and we rarely even hear about it from imbecile and jealous art commentators here. We give you a glimpse of same.
A PRINCESS WITH WORDS OF KNOWLEDGE AT HER OWN DOOR STEPS
THE AMAZING INTELLECT OF ZEBUNNISA DAUGHTER OF ALAMGEER
Leaving the world of bigoted locals and farangi bazaar gossips (with dirty filthy minds), there are Muslim writers who have done justice to their job. However much of these books are not available and out of sight of most people. One is a small biography of Princess Zebunnisa done by Munshi Abdur Rahman “Shauk” Amritsari, who relies on Muslim sources of historical importance. Quoting many things attached to the Princess, but one statement is extremely new, and worthy of note.
Zebunnisa was obviously getting the best of education, collected one of the finest libraries in Hindustan, and had various scholars write treatises on subjects with which she was not very familiar. One subject which intrigued her was of Astronomy and study of Stars. It is evident that manuscripts on Stars were collected by her. The details of a book on poetic balancing, written at her request by Imamuddin Riazi, son of Lutufullah Muhandis is well known. Imamuddin Riazi also enjoyed some official position at the court. In a bayaz collected by her of various poets, she has included verses of Lutufullah Muhandis. Imamuddin Riazi at court would have told her many things abut the stars too. Lutufullah Muhandis translate the epic Star book of Abdur Rahman Sufi, the original copy at Aligarh University.
One day Zebunnisa was sitting with her teachers, an elderly lady, who wanted to ask her about the Stars. The teacher herself was stupefied and talking about the Stars. The lady said she has read about many things but never about astronomy. She said you have read a lot about stars, so at what distance are they from earth. Do people reside on these stars? They look so small from far, but what are they actually? Zebunnisa said to her teacher I am certainly not in a position to tell you the exact distance of the stars from earth but can assure you that there is another world there, and certainly in another world life must be there. Allah must have created lakhs of things on those surfaces. Certainly living things must be there. She said that according to astronomy if in a single breath we travel 186000 miles then we can reach the stars in 3500 years. The teacher went into a stupor but could say nothing to the Princess. The answer given by Zebunnisa was both based on knowledge and intellect. And a well deserved answer. The intellectual freaks of today cannot equal the rationality mixed with tenets of DEEN of the past.
“WHAT IS ART WITHOUT THE STRIKING POWER OF THE MOSES STAFF!” THE GAME OF LOBBIES STARTED FROM DAY ONE, MEDIA IMPOTENCE,TO CAPTURE THE SPIRIT OF THE NATION. TAHIR LAHOOTI ALWAYS FREE.
The vision of Hazrat Umar (blessings) and the harassment of people opposed to Ideology, started the charade of defusing clear cut images of life. Vested interests knew that Hazrat Umar (blessings) will never allow mutilation of the Islamic vision, and so by plan he was assassinated and removed from the scene. The second aim was that according to the Caliph, the Quran alone was enough for the Muslims, so subterfuge was created, with ideas which were not in the Quran. The game continues to this day and is forever. But here we are concerned with Art and art alone. Art that consolidates and gives a clear vision to the people is aimed to be contained by counter narrative. It started very early and still very much in practice. Thinkers who could clear this are mostly gone, and never patronized by the holders of the other narrative. Perhaps a few hundred, maybe even a thousand people all over Pakistan, are given incentives through money and influence, to subjugate this vision. They are wasting their time. Even a beautiful woman siting in her home or in a brothel means different things.
Dr Allama Iqbal said few things about Art, and one poetic statement means a lot of things for us: “O Wise one! It is well to have thirst for knowledge,But what is in art that faileth to grasp the reality of things.The object of all art is to attain the warmth of life immortal,What availeth a spasm or two that vanish like a spark!Without a miracle nations cannot rise-What is art without the striking power of the Moses staff!” Art in the past, whether Western or otherwise Hindu was always for religious sake. On one hand Islamic Art was truly Art for Art sake, but it had a function too. In the quest for personality development in life, Art aimed at enhancing the sensibilities of human kind. The aim of Islamic art was that humankind oppressed with vicissitudes of life, comes near Art to replenish itself from the hardships of life. To cool the nerves of issues of life to refresh ones vigour. A young baby grasps the nipple of the mother’s breast to replenish its energy. The grown human being catches hold of the sensibilities of music, drama, and the fine arts to save itself from loss of vision of development and progress. Art and aesthetics consolidates the nation. The artists role is divine in shaping up the nation towards tomorrow. P.S. We will add more. People who seek inspiration from messages of anarchy, unrest, and negative content.