Sunday, May 27, 2012

Precious, my Jooti!



river of chappals. Noida.
Noor Jahan built a Masjid in Srinagar near Zaina Kadal opposite Shah Hamdan mosque.. Unlike other Majids in Kashmir the time, this Masjid was made of stone or Pathar, and hence came to be known as Pathar Masjid. The story goes that on completion of the Mosque, a Mulla asked her how much did it cost her. It is said that in her response the Shia Empress of India pointed to her shoe or Jooti. Mulla in response is said to have decreed the Masjiid unfit for praying.  So goes the story of a building that in Sikh era was used as a granary.

Now, here is another story of  a Jooti response from another place, another time, another precious and same context. From history of Koh-i-noor told by Erich von Schonberg in 'Travels in India and Kashmir' (1853):


After a long chapter of accidents, the koh-i-noor was brought to Lahore in 1812, by Schah Schujah, when he sought the protection of Runjeet Singh. Runjeet had heard a great deal of the stone, and though he was no judge of jewels, he earnestly desired the possession of this one, and was determined to leave no means untried to gratify his wishes.
Wuffa Begum, the wife of Schah Schujah, lived at Schadirah. Runjeet sent to demand the jewel of her, but she declared that she had it not.
This answer did not satisfy the Sikh ; he ordered that all her jewels should be seized, and brought to Lahore. Many of these were of such great beauty, that Runjeet believed that the koh-i-noor must be amongst them ; but having afterwards discovered his error, he ordered the begum to be closely watched. Nobody was allowed to go in or out of her palace without being searched ; and Runjeet let her know that nothing would satisfy him but the possession of the koh-i-noor.
The begum sent him a beautiful ruby. This stone exceeded in splendour anything the maha-rajah had ever seen, and he now believed that he really beheld the koh-i-noor. But as he was himself unable to estimate the value of jewels, he sent for a man who was conversant in such things, and who besides had seen the great "mountain of hght." The Sikh displayed befere the connoisseur a great number of jewels, and asked which of these was the koh-i-noor? The man replied that the koh-i-noor was not amongst these stones, and that all he saw there were insignificant, compared with that great gem.
'Shoes including Kashmiri shoes of green leather'
from Provincial geographies of India (1913)
Runjeet's anxiety to possess this treasure was now greater than ever. He tried what starvation could do, but the begum endured the trial unmoved. He then changed his mode, and tried persuasion and arguments. The begum promised to give the koh-i-noor, if her husband, who was then imprisoned at Lahore, should be set free. This was done, but some other conditions of the agreement were left unfulfilled. Runjeet demanded the jewel; the begum said that it had been pledged to a merchant in Kandahar. This was an evasion. Starvation was again tried, but in vain. New severities were about to be exercised, when the Schah promised that on a certain day, the koh-i-noor should be delivered to Runjeet Singh.
The day appointed for this important transfer was the 1st of June, 1813. The maha-rajah came to the place of meeting, accompanied by some trusty friends, nor did he forget to bring connoisseurs, to whose inspection the jewel should be submitted. When the Sikhs entered the hall where the schah and his friends were assembled, mutual greetings were exchanged,after which a death-like stillness prevailed. An hour passed in this manner, when Runjeet, who was impatient, made a sign to one of his friends, intimating a desire that he should remind the schah of the object of his visit. The schah made a signal to a slave, who retired, and returned in a few minutes with a little packet which he laid on the carpet, at an equal distance from the maha-rajah and the schah. Having done this, he returned to his place, and all were again silent. There is no saying how long the company might have remained mute, if Runjeet had not made a sign to one of his adherents, who, rising, lifted the packet, unfolded the wrappings, and revealed the koh-i-noor.The precious gem was recognised by those who had come for that purpose, and the maha-rajah was satisfied. Delighted at the sight of this splendid prize, he turned to the schah, and inquired what the stone was worth. The answer was, "Djuty."

Selling 'Gola Boots' at Lal Chowk, Srinagar
This word djuty has many significations. It means shoes, and is used in India to express the infliction of a disgraceful and deserved punishment. "I will give thee shoes," " I will beat thee with shoes," is a threat that implies the utmost contempt. Besides this, djuty, or dhjuty, has other meanings, which may be expressed by a slight difference in the pronunciation. In one sense, it implies lies, deceit, disgrace, treachery, insult, mockery, jesting. In another sense the word signifies war, battles, &c."

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A description of the mosque is provided by Godfrey Thomas Vigne, an English traveller who visited Kashmir in 1835. In his book ;Travels in Kashmir, Ladak, Iskardo, the Countries Adjoining the Mountain-Course of the Indus, and the Himalaya, north of the Panjab with Map' (1844), he writes:

"Nur Jehan Begum (the light of the world), the Nur Muhul (the light of the palace) of Lallah Rookh, is the most renowned name in the valley, that of her august consort, Jehan Gir, not excepted. In spite of the more authentic story of her birth which is to be found in Ferishta, the Kashmirians would have us believe that she was a native of the valley: a daughter of the Malek of Chodra, a large ruined village in the centre of the centre of the southern side of the valley, and situated on the Dud Gunga (milk river). The only fact that that I heard that I heard of, that could be any possibility be brought forward in support of this assertion is, that near Chodra there are some ruins, said to be those of a house that once belonged to her; but in which there is nothing in any way remarkable. I have already oticed the palaced at Vernag and Shahbad, which were built by here or her husband. The Musjid, or new mosque, in the city, was built by her, and is, in fact, the only edifice of the kind that can vie in general aspect and finish with the splendour of the Moti Musjid, or the pearl mosque, at Agra. A handsome flight of stone steps leads from river to the door of the courtyard, which surrounds it. The interior of the building is about sixty-four yards in length, and of a proportionate width, the roof being supported by two rows of massive square piers, running through the entire length of the building, the circular compartments between them being handsomely ribbed and vaulted. When I was in Kashmir it was used as a granary or storehouse for rice."

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1 comment:

  1. Kanny masheed. (pathar masjid) This is home we are talking about. How they managed to move such huge stones has always perplexed me. Use to go there many a evemings. Thougb i was mot aware of the legend of djuty, it was not used for prayers for sure even then. It had become sort of HQ of Natioal Conferance. Bleeding hearts use to claim masjid was made from stone stair case of Shankracharya which ran from Durga Nag to top. Which at first place would have paled Egyption Paramids in comparison. Alalyze that. Dinesh

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