Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pandit Marriage, 1922


The bridegroom, aged 14, stands in the centre, priests are sitting in front. Pictures of various gods and goddesses lie on the ground.

Photograph by Pandit Vishwanath.

There's a good chance that the photo depicts the thread ceremony of Pandits or Yagnopavit. It's the sahibaan, the tent, in the background that I found interesting.

Found it in: 'Kashmir in Sunlight & Shade: a Description of the Beauties of the Country, the Life, Habits and Humour of its Inhabitants, and an Account of the Gradual but Steady Rebuilding of a Once Down-trodden People'  by Cecil Earle Tyndale-Biscoe (1922).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pandit Woman by Pandit Vishwanath, 1922

Kashmir women do not have a working dress. This one has been squatting on a filthy bank cleaning her greasy pots with mud whilst wearing all her gold and silver and precious stones. She has no trinket box at home nor any place to store anything, so besides wearing all her clothes and valuables she has both pockets full, and tucked into her sash a handkerchief, knife, comb and snuff-box, and in the fold of her sleeves snuff and sugar in screws of paper, a needle and cotton and various other things.

The writer must have caught hold of her and given her a good shake and out must have tumbled all her possessions. A needle, a knife, a snuff-box. From the description, I have heard stories about snuff boxes; practice of cleaning pots with mud continued well into the 90s.  And then slowly mud was replaced by Nirma.

Photo by Pandit Vishwanath, a student of Biscoe and the first Kashmiri photographer.Found it in the book 'Kashmir in Sunlight & Shade: a Description of the Beauties of the Country, the Life, Habits and Humour of its Inhabitants, and an Account of the Gradual but Steady Rebuilding of a Once Down-trodden People' (1922) by Cecil Earle Tyndale-Biscoe.

The thing that really interested me in the photograph is her footware. Must be the famous Pulhor [ recent photo] woven from leaves of Iris ( Krishm in Kashmiri ).

(I suspected it) Turns out  she is wearing Krav or wooden sandals.
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Panditanis

With graceful steps, erect and slow
Adown the stone-built, broken stair
The panditanis daily go
And on their head help high they bear

Bright vessels, which they stoop fill
Beneath the bridge's wooden pier:
In pools of clouded amber still
Which gurgle deep and glowing here.

Their movements of unconscious grace
Glint in the Jhelum's flowing stream
Where rich hues shimmering interlace
And in the glancing ripples gleam,

Then with their slender rounded arms
They poise the shining lotas high,
Ot bashful, with half feigned alarms
Draw close their veils with gesture shy.


Bedecked by jewels quaint of form
In pherans robed, whose soft folds show
Tints dyed by rays of sunset warm
Flame, crimson, orange, rose aglow!

With you gay tulips they compare
Which on these grass-grown house-tops blow:
What types for artist's brush more fair
Does all Srinagar's city know?

~ Muriel A.E. Brown
Chenar Leaves: Poems of Kashmir (1921)
Muriel Agnes Eleanora Talbot Brown was the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Adelbert Cecil Talbot, Resident, Kashmir 1896- 1900. And first wife of Percy Brown, art historian famous for his work on History of Indian Architecture ( Buddhist and Hindu, 1942 ).

 Another one of her poems. 

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Photographs of Kashmir, 1921

Here are some old photographs of Kashmir from the book 'Topee and turban, or, Here and there in India'  (1921) by Newell, H. A. (Herbert Andrews, b. 1869). Photographs are by a Sialkot based photographer named R.E. Shorter.


Photograph of the Chenar Bagh on the Dal Canal at Srinagar

Third Bridge on Jehlum - Fateh Kadal. Can see Hari Parbat in the background.

Old Photograph of Pandit Woman, 1921


Found this incredible rare old photograph of Kashmiri pandit woman in a travelogue 'Topee and turban, or, Here and there in India'  (1921) by Newell, H. A. (Herbert Andrews, b. 1869 ). The photograph by R.E. Shorter was used as the frontispiece for this book.. 

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Bedecked by jewels quaint of form
In pherans robed, whose soft folds show
Tints dyed by rays of sunset warm
Flame, crimson, orange, rose aglow!

- lines from poem 'Panditanis' by Muriel A.E. Brown
(Chenar Leaves: Poems of Kashmir, 1921)

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I have previously posted old photographs of Kashmiri Pandit women Here and Here

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Update [Thanks to Avi Raina]

The tight bracelet around the neck was known as 'Tulsi' and long teethy necklace was known as 'Chapkali'.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Teenk'pour



Gulmarg
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Picked up: "Tankipora or Teenk'pour  near old Secretariat in Srinagar. A place where you could get coin currency in exchange of  cash. And it had been like that, a place to get smaller change, for generations. The place gets its name from 'Teenk'" or 'Tanki' of  the kind issued by Emperor Akbar. Tanki were the copper coin  issued by Akbar from his Ahmadabad, Agra, Kabul, and Lahore mints. System: 10 Tanki (each one weighing 4.15 gram )  = 1 Tanka (230.45 gram)

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He got his first salary - Rs 10. But sadly for him they gave him a ten rupees note. He was absolutely embarrassed. 'How can I hand just this single note to mother? It seems nothing. She would be dejected.'  So he hit upon an idea. He went to Teenk'pour and changed the ten rupee note for 10 paisa coins. Then he went back home and handed over a full jangling bag of coins to his mother. 'Son, they pay you so much salary!  May you prosper more! May you be an afsar soon! Good bless! Urzu! Urzu!' Mother was happy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Illustrated Kashmir, 1870

Found these in 'Letters from India and Kashmir' by J. Duguid, 1870. [The illustrations are by MR. H. R. ROBERTSON, and engraved by MR. W. J. PALM KB, principally from the writer's Sketches.]

View from Shankarachary . Can't take camera up the hill these days.

Martand as described by Sir Alexander Cunningham

 I  mentioned writings of Alexander Cunningham in a previous post about Pandav lar'rey (House of Pandas, as Martand temple was common known among Pandits).

British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham (1814-93), as a young British Army Engineer officer was stationed in Kashmir after the first Sikh War of 1845-1846. In November 1847, he measured and studied most of the ancient structures that existed in Kashmir. Because of his pioneering work he came to be known as the father of Indian Archaeology.

I recently came across some more extracts from his work 'An Essay on the Arian Order of Architecture, as exhibited in the Temples of Kashmir (1848) ' while reading 'Letters from India and Kashmir' by J. Duguid, 1870. Here are the extracts describing Martand temple and its illustrations from the book:
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