Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ganesha Iconography and Mubarak Mandi Gate

Frontispiece of the book 'L'art des cuivres anciens au Cachemire & au Petit-Thibet (1883)'
[Art of Antique Brass of Kashmir & The Little Tibet by Ch. E. Ujfalvy,  drawings  by B. Schmidt]
Captioned as: 'The god Ganesha served by two young girls' [available here at archive.org]
(These early European collectors obviously had no idea what they were hoarding, proper studies started only much later)
In the above image, the deity sits like an emperor 
Mubarak Mandi Gate (Darshani Deodi), Old Jammu

Painting on top of the gate
Ganesha with wives Riddhi and Siddhi

On top of another gate to a building complex in Mubarak Mandi
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lake and River Scouts in Kashmir, 1926

The free book uploaded this month for SearchKashmir Free Book project is a school report published by Church Missionary Society for year 1926 and titled 'Lake and River Scouts in Kashmir'. From the work, it seems there were other such reports too that covered other Biscoe lead activities in Kashmir.


There are details of number of people saved by the students from drowning, details about the way girls wing of C.M.S. school was proceeding (with emphasis on the school in Anantnag) and funding details of the institution (not surprisingly a lot of Pandit are there in the list of donors and receptors of . Interestingly, the funding from West was to suffer when the World War 2 started). Then there are some stories that are presented as lessons for others.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Kashmir Village Life, 1959 by M.S. Randhawa

Guest post by Man Mohan Munshi Ji. 

Photographs of Kashmir by M.S. Randhawa for his 'Farmers of India' series. These are from Volume 1 (1959) that covered Northern India.

[Photographer: Hari Krishna Gorkha]

A Kashmiri Muslim mother with child

A Kashmiri Muslim Girl
Kashmiri woman pounding rice

A village family taking tea

9
A village family enjoying Gae'r (Singadas/ water chestnuts)

An elderly Kashmiri Muslim couple

Kashmiri Muslim village children

A Kashmiri farmer ploughing his fields

Thrashing Paddy

A typical Village

Houses in a prosperous village

A Kashmiri Pandit farmers's house
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Khyn Kadin

Yak mashid'e do darwazah;
Ao miyan trao potasah.

One mosque (with) two doors;
Come, sire, and bang on it.

Ans: Khyn Kadin, to blow one's now. (native fashion)


Sari, sari ayekhai, Padmani, ratit dyutmai dab.

O Padman, you came by way of the lake, and I laid hold of you and threw you down.

Ans: Khyn Kadin, to blow one's nose (native fashion)

Machih kadit munih thas.


And: Khyn Kadin, blowing the nose after the native fashion. If sitting in his house, the ordinary poor Kashmiri will fling the snot against the wall.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Big Bores


The garden dividing A and B blocks was decked up like a gaudy bride. Twinkling fairy lights, tied and twisted over potted plants and tallish trees, blinked into the cool December haze. Chairs had been laid out in a crescent shape under the jamun tree. A sprinkling of idle chatter and laughter enveloped the late evening air.
To prevent the mud from dirtying bare feet, and the ladies' high-heeled stilettos sinking in, a thick cotton rug had been laid on the ground. Smell of rose incense and aromatic foods permeated the thick winter chill.
'You call this chilly? Baap re. What would you do in Kashmir then?'

'Why don't you just put a rubber stamp on your forehead? Kedar suggested. 'Razdans, the bores from Kashmir, that way you won'y have to announce it over and over again. In Kashmir this, in Jammu that. Arabian Sea is like toilet water when you compare it to Dal lake, the air in Mumbai is like breathing poisonous gas…'

Kedar was sick of Mrs Razdan's rants. He had spend the last fifteen minutes in that corner behind the table. and in spite of his resolution not to be rude to elders, he found he couldn't help himself. He walked off with a flourish, hitching up his trousers and jabbing his fingers int he air, rapsta style. The New Year was a few weeks away, by then he would have got his act together, he promised himself. Besides wasn't it rude to be as boring as the Razdans? Actually, he decided, as he sauntered off, their boringness had been far worse than his rudeness, so all in all, it was okay.

~ Swapnalok Society: The Good News Reporter (2009) by Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, fiction for young teens about the way television news works. The story is based around happening in a Mumbai urban society where a Kashmiri Pandit family also lives.

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The new crop of Kashmir Pandit immigrants have been in living in these urban settings, away from Kashmir, for more than twenty years now. It's only natural that we ought now be part of stories coming from these urban centers. Stories which do not revolve around Kashmir and in which a Bhattni just pops up as one of the characters. (It is kind of funny that the clearest example of it should have some from the mind of someone who gave us pop-hit 'Dole Dole; in year 1995 [youtube]).

Mixed Housing societies have always been good theme for 'Indian Stories'. We find them in writings of Salman Rushdie and in cinema of Sai Paranjape. The stories often suffer from usual racial stereotype syndrome: Gujrati goes 'Kemcho', Tamil goes 'Aiyyo', old Parsi goes 'Dikra', Marathi doesn't go 'Bokmay', Punjabi doesn't go 'Pencho', Sardarji goes 'Peg lagao' and now Kashmiri goes...'Kashmir ye...Kashmir wo'...which of course is boring. 

Yes, we are big bores. Kashmir consumes us. Our world revolves around Dal Lake, Jammu is our moon and Srinagar Venus+Mars. Odd that we can write tomes about a world we no longer inhibit but barely acknowledge the ground beneath our feet. 

The new immigrant Pandits literature still revolves around Kashmir and not about characters living 'Jamna Paar'. Jaman Paar does not exist. Perhaps it would take us another decade to start writing about the 'Indian' characters as we see them. Then maybe we would have some more boring stories to tells.

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kashpex - 79

One more postcard that I never intend to post. From personal collection.


Valley of flowers.
A post card published for Kashmir Philatelic Exhibition 1979, Srinagar.

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'Kashmiri Bride' Stamp and Postcard, 1980

From personal collection


Postcard and Stamp
for the 1980 "Brides from India series: Bride from Jammu and Kashmir"
Based on work by "Doll Designing Centre and Workshop, Nehru House, New Delhi"

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Kashmir Envelope

From personal collection

A beautifully painted envelope (undated) filled with 'Kashmir Scenes'




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Friday, July 4, 2014

Last days of Silk Route, 1939

The impact that World War 2 had on the Silk Route traders who used to visit Kashmir. An extract from 'The Kashmir Residency: Memories of 1939 and 1940' by Evelyn Desiree Battye, who served as Personal Assistant to the Resident of Kashmir during those years. 

Invariably there was something of interest going on in the deep back verandah or in the square entrance hall where farash footmen hung about with the colorful chaprassis waiting for the next message to be taken or received, bot most interesting of all to me were the bagmen, as the itinerant merchants were called. Most visited regularly once or twice a year and were welcomed as old friends. They came great distances on foot in yak and mule caravans carrying their goods. They were ffed and put up in the servants quarters.
'China-man agaya, Memsahib,' de Mello would announce with beaming face. Once it was during a dinner party.
'Oh, do let's see what he brings!' ladies exclaimed; and after the mea; the hall floor would be littered with his goods to examine and admire.
The Chinaman brought underwear for us, and for the men silk pyjamas with dragons embroidered on the pockets. There were fine cross-stitched tray and tea cloths with small napkins to match, lacquer tea sets with red and gold painting on the insides, and little cups and saucers with matching spoons just the right size for after-dinner coffee. With these went black lacquer trays, fruit plates and finger bowls. There were prettily painted china soup bowls with their matching lids, saucers, and serving spoons from which to choose a set of eight. Also displayed were exquisite ornaments both in white and green jade which Ronnie and I held admiringly but could never afford even though they were at bargain prices. The Chinaman encouraged us to finger his goods as much as we liked and to drape his satins and gossamer materials over chairs and balustrades to see the effect. Once we had made our purchases he had everything neatly folded and packed up into his bags in a jiffy.
These roving Chinamen would stay in India a year, sometimes two, while travelling round a favorite beat of 'regulars' with the chittis of recommendation we always gave him, until he had sold all his wares. Then he would travel back the long way 'over the top of the world' following the silk route to China to replenish his stocks for the next trip. It was quite a thing to welcome back a familiar Chinaman after his long absences. But would there be a next time?

'What happen to poor China-man now, Master, Missee?' I remember our favorite bagman expressing, his wrinkled face a study of woe. 'Big war stop China-man to come back. Fan Lo face ruin!'

'You must come back, Fan Lo; what would we do for presents without you? Take this chitti and go to Hong Kong, that's british, and then you can return.'

He got to Hong Kong (so the servants informed ) and was allowed into the Colony with all his recommendations from the Memsahibs of India, and there he was caught by the war. he never came back.


Always of great interest to the men particularly was the carpet man who came to display his shimmering rugs and camel-bags which he spread out in the hall. He too carried his heavy loads by mule-pack and yak over the mountain passes and through the dusty deserts, though in a more westerly direction than the Chinaman's route. He brought intricately pattered brightly colored saddlebags with their long tasselled fringes from Shiraz in Southern Persia, and superbly ornate silk prayer-mats from Kashan in Iran; the loosely knitted fringed rugs from Kazakh of longer pile; rugs from the Caucasus; Bokhara carpets of magenta or puce, and the many less expensive and coarser woven ones of blues, green and browns from Kula, Afghanistan and Baluchistan. These carpets once again reflected the Persian love of flowers, of massed roses and carnations, of hunting scenes and exotic lotuses which showed the Chinese influence.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pandit Woman Postal Stamp from Austria

From personal collection

'Kashmir Woman'
Made in Austria
Weird world. Back then someone in Austria had even made a postal stamp out of the photograph of a Pandit woman profiled by Fred Bremner. In 1921, the image was mislabelled as that of a 'Boatwoman' by National Geographic.

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Previously on this image the:
Bhattni/Haenz'bai by Fred Bremner, 1900
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