|A very comprehensive article on the Painters of Punjab, courtesy of R.P.Srivastava is given here.Some paintings are from his book Punjab Paintings and some excerpts and paintings are with courtesy of K.C.Aryan from his book Punjab Paintings (1841-1941)|
PRINCIPAL CENTRES OF PAINTING
ANY discussion on the historical study of painting and its relative role as a cultural denominator in the development of style in Punjab, postulates necessary follow up of relations between the patron and artist, which existed in the nineteenth century. Without such a study our treatment of Punjab painting in all its facets will remain incomplete. Like any other aspect of human endeavour, rulers of the princely states of Punjab tried to imitate the working style of the mighty emperors of India. General administration, security provisions, dispensation of justice, construction of forts and palaces, etc., had been copied from elsewhere. Likewise, the feudal lords of Punjab headed in the same direction of employing the artists for decorating the palaces, making their portraits, and recording their family events in albums of miniatures. When, once these artists were appointed, some sort of rapport had been established between the two. Obviously, the artist could not live without his patron, and, likewise, the patron could not do without the artist, as the latter had to commemorate, and beautify his patron's life in several ways. It has been a constant human weakness of rulers to see their resemblance recorded in visual as well as literary form. There has been a historic continuity in developing such a tradition in cultural epochs of the civilised nations of the world. Cultural heritage of Punjab in particular and India in general speak volumes of instances in support of this assertion. Right from the period of recorded history in India until today, this pattern of patron-artist relationship has been in existence, and, it continues even today in some form or other. The only difference between patrons of the past and present is that the former was a king and that present one is a big businessman or the government established by law.
Nineteenth-century Punjab, therefore, saw several changes in the social,
political and cultural fields. Ranjit Singh was the dominating personality
in Lahore area with the entire Hill princes under his suzerainty. Sansar
Chand of Kangra ultimately accepted former's authority in his state. Then
the Cis-Sutlez chiefs of Punjab such a Kapurthala, Patiala, Jind and Kalsia,
apprehending usurpation of their territories by Ranjit Singh, obtained
guarantees from the British government against any nefarious designs of
his. Then only these Punjab chiefs were in a position to run their administration
peacefully. Every Punjab State had a British resident in its territory
to liaise with British as well as other Punjab chiefs. Thus, British officers
used to send massages of loyalty or revolt to the governor-general or
Secretary of State.
Maharani Sada Kaur, the mother-in-law of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Sketch by Kehar Singh
Diwan Mohkam Chand, who with Sada Kaur helped Ranjit Singh to conquer Lahore. (Painting Kehar Singh)
|For the nineteenth century miniature painters, there was nothing left
to do but to eke out an existence by making facile, salable likenesses.
Newer artists merely stammered what their predeces-sors had sung, copied
what their forebears nad created, but failed to infuse into their work that
additional dimension of passionate originality which had distinguished Pahari
After Lahore Amritsar City occupied the envious place as a centre of painting in the whole of the region. K.C. Aryan, artist-writer, has given the philosophical account of this city:
One of the most fascinating cities of northern India, Amritsar is also one of the most ancient and legendary sites in the Punjab. According to popular belief-which is doubtless of local origin-Valmiki wrote his celebrated epic, the Ramayan, near around this hallowed site of the "Pool of Nec-tar". It was here, too, that Sita stayed during the period of vanvasa (banishment). Here, again the twin sons of Lord Rama were taught the Ramayan. Yet another legend identified the site of this pool with the place where the whole of Lord Rama's army was destroyed by his sons, Lava and Kusha, and relates how at that a jug of nectar descended from heaven to restore the soldiers to life.
Guru Ram Dass made his home by the side of pool in 1574. In 1577 Guru Ram Dass was healing ailing persons with the miraculous water of the pool. There are two very vital reasons behind this. One is the presence of the Golden Temple, another is that it had been a summer capital of Ranjit Singh. He encouraged his courtiers and nobles to settle down at Amritsar, and they constructed majestic havelis there. The great Maharaja also invited Marwaris as he had realized that without business activity his kingdom cannot flourish nor cultural developments take place. The third reason, which is of highest importance, is that it was also a commercial town. Apart from being a centre of flourishing business in silk, woollen, dry fruits, ivory works and other handicrafts, Amritsar provided religious peace and tran-quillity to hundreds and thousands citizens of the locality as also from outside. Several social and cul-tural movements started in Amritsar and breathed their last here. It was a great centre of Arya Samaj, Hindu Samaj, Muslim and Akali movements in the whole of Punjab. Amritsar gave birth to several famous painters, writers, philosophers, poets and engineers. Skilled artists and artisans from Kashmir had flocked in Amritsar in 1830 who also made significant contribution to the growth of silk and woollen shawl industry. Kashmir style of painting had also influenced manuscript illumina-tion. Thus, Amritsar was a cultural capital of Ranjit Singh and remained so even after him. Several of its architectural monuments of high artistic merit, like Khalsa College (1892), Golden Temple (1577), Ram Bagh Palace (1818), Durgiana Temple, Clock Tower (1874) and Jama Masjid (1880) etc., per-petuate the aesthetic achievements of the era gone by. Apart from the royal patronage to artists, the city merchants, religious leaders of Ak1'gras, other Sikh chiefs22 and deras give lavish patronage to these persons. It is evident from the extant thakurdwaras, shivalas and havelis of big sardars and businessmen of Amritsar which contain beautiful frescos painted by these artists. The artists who worked at Lahore and Amritsar belonged to Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions. But past record in Indian libraries and museums do not show any evidence of artists except Kapur Singh and Kehar Singh, and it is only recently that some detailed descriptions of these have come 'to light.' Some very significant information along with authentic documentary evidence relating to the artists, calligraphers and naqqashas of Punjab of the nineteenth century have come to our notice through Mr Arif Rehman Chughtai of Lahore whose ances-tors, viz, Miran Bakhsh, Pir Bakhsh, Ilahi Bakhsh, Muhammad Bakhsh etc have distinguished themselves as artists, designers, calligraphers and architects in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent right from the rich period of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to the time of downfall of Sikh kingdom of the Lion of Punjab. The creative contribution of these artists who constituted a major bulk of Punjab contingent belonged to Lahore, and a detailed account of their artistic career shall follow in the next section of this chapter. Further detailed information in this regard was available from artist Hari Singh who was the contemporary of all the famous painters of this region. Most of these painters lived in Katra Tarkhana in Amritsar where they mingled and shared happiness and sorrow. Their family bonds were so strong that they rarely went beyond their community bounds for matrimonial alliances. More information regarding the leading artist family of Amritsar was obtained from Hakim Gurcharan Singh, the last surviving descendant of Kehar Singh who worked at the court of Ranjit Singh at Lahore. The patronage, however, remained changing-from royal courts to British officers of the Punjab after the annexation in 1849, and then big zamindars, Sikh sardars such as Sandhanwalia of Rajasansi and Sham Singh Attariwalia, both in Amritsar district. The ancestors of both the families occupied prominent place in the court of Ranjit Singh. Their family residences at both the places have been found to have beautiful frescos. The neighbouring villages in Amritsar district such as Tarn Taran and Khadur Sahib had gurudwaras with painted walls. Sometimes painters worked for religious institutions free of charge. The merchant class also employed these artists in beautifying their large houses and their family samadhs (cemeteries) as well as temples.
After Lahore and Amritsar, Kapurthala and Patiala stand out sharply, where the ruling chiefs patronized art and culture of high taste and splendour. Patiala, Jind and Nabha belong to the group of Phulkian states, which along with Kalsia and Faridicot were known as Cis-Sutlej states and ruled over the area between Jamuna and Sutlej. The rulers of these states trace their lineage to a common ancestor- Chaudhari Phul of Jaisalmer (Rajasthan).
The founder of Kapurthala, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, rose to importance
about the middle of eighteenth century. He fought several bloody wars
with Muslim invaders of the time and swarmed the areas from Sutlej to
Haryana, Saharanpur, Bagpat (in Meerut) in Uttar Pradesh looting, conquering
and advancing and yet he returned to Kapurthala and established his kingdom.
Bhag Singh, followed by Fateh Singh, a contemporary of Ranjit Singh, succeeded
him. Like his counterparts in Lahore and Patiala, he was also interested
in the construction of buildings of all types and beautiful architec-tural
edifices in the capital town. The principal towns in the state were Kapurthala,
Sultanpur and Phagwara.
Thus Kapurthala naturally attracted attention of gifted masons, architects, artists and designers of a high order. Kehar Singh Musawar of Lahore and Amritsar was also patronised by the Kapurthala Durbar in the nineteenth century (Sohni Mahiwal, Mss. 140/Persian, Language Department, Punjab, Patiala). Bhai Kishan Singh artist, a close relation of Kehar Singh artist, also worked at Kapurthala. Shalamar Garden with Baradari, Court and Darbar Hall were constructed on the pattern of Chief Court House of Lahore at the cost of eight lakh rupees. It is surrounded by halls of courts, Randhir College, Army Headquarters, Library buildings. Like his predecessor, Nihal Singh was also a keen patron of architecture and many beautiful edifices stand testimony to his taste even to this day.
Kehar Singh (1820-1882?). The most decorated Court artist of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He experimented with western techniques with considerable success. (See his paintings on the pages to come)
Baba Kishan Singh (1836-1895?) is supposed to be the first painter to work in traditional style.(see paintings next part)
The next centre of art and cultural activity, after Kapurthala, is Patiala. Alah Singh founded the city of Patiala in 1763. Alah Singh, grandson of Chaudhary Phul, was son of Chaudhary Ram Singh. Having assumed the leadership in 1714 after his father's death, he expanded his territories. First of all, his administration was restricted to thirty villages but gradually it extended these limits. And quickly he rose to be a towering leader of the region between Barnala and Patiala, and ultimately became an undisputed personality of Malwa. The origin of the term Malwa has differently been traced. Sardar Kahn Singh, a great encyclopaedist of Patiala, has stated that the area covered by Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Nabha, Jind and Patiala is called Malwa. At first it was a barren desert but due to the blessings of Guru Gobind Singh it became a fertile and smiling land. Late Prof Banerjee traced references to it in Mahabharata. This term was in currency long before eighteenth century and it was applied to Cis-Sutlej area. His ancestors Chaudharies Rama and Taloka had helped the tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh on 2nd August 1696 with money and men while the great Guru was in deep distress and, then, the latter had blessed the Phul family with most sincere wishes saying: "Your house is mine". This important and immortal Hukam-nama, as it is known among the Sikh circles, is now in the family treasure of the princely house of Patiala. Prominent historians including S. N. Banerjee and Bhai Santokh Singh have traced the origin of Phul family in the hoary past of chivalrous Rajasthan. Baba Alla Singh, as he was known in this area, constructed the fort in the centre of the city in 1763 where his successors Amar Singh (1748-81), Sahib Singh (1772-1813), Karam Singh (1798-1845), Narinder Singh (1845-62), Mohinder Singh (1862-76), Rajinder Singh (1876-1900), Bhupinder Singh (1900-38) and Yadvinder Singh ruled over the vast area of Patiala, Sirhind, Dera Bassi, Chail, Kandaghat, Nalagarh, Narnaul, Mohihdergarh, etc., successfully and with greatpomp and show, with Patiala as their capital.
Karam Singh paved the way for consolidation of the state on the most majestic pattern of adminis-tration, and he started construction of forts and palaces on a grand scale. He invited and patronised skilled architects and artists from all directions especially from Rajasthan, with which they had matrimonial connections. Narinder Singh studied Urdu and Persian from Munshi Saadat Ali Sahib, father of Khalifa Sayyad Mohammad Hassan who had continued to be the Prime Minister in the reigns of Karam Singh, Narinder Singh and Mahendra Singh. Narinder Singh ascended the throne on Magh Badi 6 Samvat 1902 (A.D. 1846) aged twenty-one years. He was a successful administrator, and had a developed aesthetic taste. He had links with the British government, contacts with Lahore Durbar, and had established rapport with Mughal Court. Consequent upon his and his daughter's matrimonial alliance with Rajasthani princes art and architecture was very much influenced by the Rajasthani idiom and technique, and, since, he used to visit Lahore, Banaras and Calcutta, he borrowed fashion and tradition which had chequered roots in the ancient metropolis of Punjab i.e., Lahore. Hence he was a prince of catholic taste, man of cosmopolitan views, a great promoter of fine arts, benevolent, and just ruler having an open and receptive mind to all religious faiths of his state.
He was not the ruler who was interested only in the expansion of kingdom,
but he also looked after other finer aspects of life with full patronage
and encouragement given to poets, writers, and artists. Just like Akbar,
Narinder also used to listen to religious discourses from the learned
pandits and gianis like Brahma Nand, Harjas Ral, Rama Nand, Harbhagatji,
Bhais Hakumat Singh, Budh Singh, and Misr Lal Singh. These
persons were his purohits. They used to narrate and recite Devi Bhagwat
and Granth Sahib alike. An atmosphere of religious places like
Vrindavan and Rishikesh was seen and enjoyed during his regime. Bawa Manohar
Dass was his guru who was always present to counsel him.
His successor Rajendra Singh constructed Rajendra Palace (the present
Punjab State Government Archives building) in the world famous Botanical
Garden known as Baradari Gardens. Bhupinder Siugh, who succeeded, shifted
to old Moti Bagh palace which he got constructed. It represents the Rajasthani
style in planning and construction and is connected with the Sheesh Mahal
Palace, which was con-structed by Narinder Singh in 1847.
A.R.Chughtai from the famous Chughtai Artist Family, whose contribution to art is phenominal.
|In a way, Patiala remained throughout the cradle of Phulkian renaissance from where learning, music and painting travelled to the neighbouring states of Jhind, Nabha and Kalsia. The neighbouring chiefs on hearing of their reputation there invited painters and artists. Hence, these artists became migratory in nature. Famous artists of Lahore and Amritsar, namely: Kehar Singh, Kapur Singh and Kishan Singh worked at Kapurthala and Patiala also. They and their families created immortal specimens of art and bequeathed to us noble visual monuments of civilisations, which we cherish as the cultural and historical panorama of Punjab.|
PRINCIPAL ARTISTS AND THEIR FAMILIES
We have noted how the art and cultural atmosphere in Punjab drew master craftsmen from all directions and from all religions. This beautiful and creative art activity flourished in Lahore, Amritsar, Kapurthala, and, especially, Patiala as mentioned earlier, and was carried on by hereditary artists from one generation to other according to the tradition of those days. Consequently, special families (gharanas) became popular in the areas where they lived and worked. Dwelling lanes and quarters were known after these families as was the case at Lahore:and Amritsar. Lahore, the capital town for several centuries, continued even now to be the central place for the artists. The prominent artist families that flourished and actually worked at Lahore either for the Sikh court or for general nobility were the Chughtai family, Kehar Singh-Kishan Singh family, and Purkhu-Nain Sukh family, etc. Now, we shall take up the contribution made by each family of artists separately.
Before we proceed further, it should be stated that there were two categories
of artists working in Punjab, viz, Naqqashas and Musawirs. They worked
independently of each other, in their own sphere, in techniques and styles
of their own.
The musawir or painter used to draw pictures of animated objects like Musawir Kishan Singh who skilfully portrayed personalities at the Sikh court. Chajju was famous in Amritsar for his pictures of Sikh saints. Imam Bakhsh and Mohd Bakhsh used to observe human beings in the main bazars of Lahore, and, on return to their studio, used to portray them from memory. Then these pictures were either sold to patrons, or fixed in havelis and religious places, or gifted to nobles and rajas as mementoes.
A group of painters and artisans photographed in 1911. First Row: (Standing-third from left is Mohd.Alam. Second Row:3rd & 4th from left are Hussain Bux and Malla Ram. Third Row: first and third from left are S.G.Thakur Singh and Hari Singh
Let us first discuss the part played by the artists, naqqash and musawirs
of Chughtai family who dominated the whole scene before Ranjit Singh as
also the period following his death. The names and contribution of them
that executed the paintings and decorated buildings with beautiful frescos
had almost gone into oblivion. Only recently some literature has come
to light which throws light on the existence and working of Chughtai family
artists. It cannot be understood why the scholars of Punjab art history
have not dealt with the pivotal role played by these artists. Only official
diarist of Ranjit Singh published by Sohan Lal Suri gives us some information
in this regard.
Mohammad Bakhsh Naqqash and Musawir, Pir Mohammad Musawir, Mohammad Hayat,
Jan Mohammad-some of these were associated with Mughal court also; Musawir
Ghulam Mohd Naqqash, Mirza Karam Beg, Azim Beg resident inside Mochi Gate
were famous portrait painters and Naqqash Mirza Aslam Beg was a member
of this family. He was an expert calligraphist besides being an artist.
His contemporaries were Sher Mohd, Master Mohd Din, Master Zinuddin and
Mian Mohd Din etc., who displayed their mettle in the great art of painting
of his time.
Lahore was full of artists and naqqashas at the time of British takeover
of Punjab as is evident from the album Nos. 182, 183, 184, 185 which are
filled with pictures made by the Lahori painters. Album No.187 contains
two paintings by Kapur Singh. Lahore Museum possesses several paintings
by Kapur Singh and Karm Bakhsh. Some of these were gifted students of
Mayo School of Art opened in Lahore in 1875. These were employed in several
useful vocations as drawing ewers and brass vessels for representation
in the Journal of Indian Art and 1ndustry.
There were three major families around which several minor artists worked in unison or indepen-dently. Some of these were close relations and some were distant ones. This would be clear from the tables which were prepared on the information supplied by Hakim Gurcharan Singh, a descendant of Kehar Singh family. This information was further verified and confirmed by artist Hari Singh of Amritsar.
Sohan Lal Suri, an official diarist of the court
of Ranjit Singh, describes how artists were patronised and as such we
can understand the state of painting in Lahore kingdom. For the first
time we come across this important reference relating to artist Bhai Kishan
Singh Musawir (portrait-maker) who was sent by Sher Singh to make portrait
of Dost Mohammad, ruler of Kabul and Kandahar while on a return journey
from Calcutta to Afghanistan.
These naqqashas and artists lived in Kucha Tarkhana, Gall Naqqashan, Amritsar, from where they used to go far and wide for their daily bread. Since they all belonged to carpenter class (Ramgarhia community), they were talented in basic drawing work as also in the decoration work of buildings and paintings. Hence, they skillfully performed the whole job satisfactorily. But the court patronage was the privilege of only a chosen few, as for example, Kehar Singh, Kishan Singh, Bishan Singh and Kapur Singh, who enjoyed wide recognition in Lahore as well as in Amritsar, Kapurthala, Patiala, Sangrur, Nabha, etc. Bishan Singh did water-colour in the beginning but switched over to oil. His forty portraits are in the Lahore Museum. Their masterpieces can still be seen at Lahore, Chandigarh and London museums.
Hence these brothers and nephews worked wholeheartedly in the field of painting to the entire satis-faction of their patrons. Their concentration was mainly on Sikh themes: religious and secular. They contributed in a large measure to the embellishment of inner walls of Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. Their selfless service brought them honour as Fakhr-e-Caum (Pride of the Nation).
Artist-Naqqash Rood Singh of family No. I was son-in-law and disciple of Kehar Singh. Rood Singh's son Ganesha Singh, an architect, was a nephew of Ishar Singh son of Ram Singh, elder brother of Kehar Singh. Ishri, daughter of Kehar Singh, was married to Rood Singh. Hence Hakim Gurcharan Singh, grandson of Rood Singh, as disclosed to this author, inherited six almirahs and eight boxes full of paintings, drawings and sketches ,82 some of these had been taken away by the people free of cost when Hakim Gurcharan Singh did not know the market value of these, but the rest were disposed of when he discovered the commercial aspect of the paintings left by his ancestors, Kehar Singh.
Kishan Singh and Kapur Singh did not confine their activities to Lahore
and Amritsar alone, they went to Kapurthala and Patiala also. Apart from
the above cited there were other naqqashas and artists like Din Mohammad,
Jawahar Dacha, Latuni, Sharaf-ud-din, Maiha Ram etc., who worked in Amritsar
and Lahore in the nineteenth century. Jaimal Singh and Buta Singh and
Amar Singh painted Janam Sakhis in Baba Attal Sahib, Amritsar. Vir Singh
painted the second storey of Baba Deep Singh Gurdwara, Amritsar. Rood
Singh worked at several places including the temple Baijnath Paprola in
Kangra district (Himachal Pradesh). Mehtab Singh artist son of Jawala
Singh and disciple of Ishar Singh of Gali Choor Singh worked at Chowk
Prag Dass Amritsar, Harnam Singh son of Hira Singh and disciple of Mehtab
Singh painted at Darbar Sahib, Din Mohd of Jandiala Guru Ka was disciple
of Mehtab Singh. Amar Singh son of Jawala Singh and disciple of Sardul
Singh worked in Bazar Mai Sewan, Amritsar. Atma Singh son of Mehtab Singh
is now working in Darbar Sahib, Amritsar.
Then come Lahora Singh and Milkhi Ram. Lahora Singh was a disciple of Moham-mad Bakhsh Musawar, father of Khalifa Imam-ud-din artist. In the beginning, Lahora Singh used to work in Gumti Bazar, then he shifted to Dabbi Bazar, Lahore. He had a disciple named Milkhi Ram. Milkhi Ram was a good artist. Both were equally good in Punjabi painting. Milkhi Ram has published numerous books in Urdu litho illustrated by him. Lahora Singh was disciple, so far as poetry is concerned, of Baba Hidiyatullah, resident in Mohallah Chabuk Sewaran, Lahore. He had written Heer-Ranjha in Punjabi language, which was illustrated by him. A complete set of Guru Nanak's life history by Lahora Singh is now preserved in the Museum of Punjab Government Archives, Patiala, which is clearly distinct in its own style. These paintings are monochromatic and are all didactic in nature. A lithograph section of ten Gurus was seen in the possession of Hakim Gurcharan Singh of Amritsar some few years ago.
Along with this should be considered the life and work of S.G. Thakur
Singh and Hari Singh. Both of them belonged to the same Ramgarhia section
of the society to which Kehar Singh, Kishan Singh and Bishan Singh belonged.
S.G. Thakur Singh who was born in village Verka in 1890, seven miles away
from. Amritsar, had learnt his craft at Lahore under the supervision of
Mohd Alam at V. D.J. Technical Institute, Lahore, from there Thakur Siagh
rose from one pedestal of fame to another. For some time he was in Bombay
films and then later he moved to Calcutta where he worked in Maidan Theatres
in preparation of artistic sets for the shows. There he came in close
contact with leaders of Renaissance Movement in Indian art led by Tagore
brothers, i.e., Abanindra Nath, Gaganendra Nath Tagore, and Nand Lal Bose,
etc. Late Prof O.C. Gangoli was his appreciative critic. S.G. Thakur Singh
worked specially for ruling Indian princes from whom he earned commission.
His permanent patrons were the rulers of Kota, Udaipur, Bhopal, Kashmir,
Dongarpur, Travancore, Nawan Nagar, Bikaner, Patiala, Kapurthala and several
other Indian princes.
Ultimately he settled down in Amritsar and founded the Indian Academy of Fine Arts at Ma dan Mohan Malviya Road, where young generation of artists learn painting, and exhibitions are held for promotion of Thakur Singh's ideals of fine art. S.G. Thakur Singh was decorated with the honour of State Artist by Punjab government. He died on 2 3uly 1976 at the ripe age of eighty-six.
Hari Singh, a contemporary of S.G. Thakur Singh, was born in 1894 in Amritsar in a family of architects, designers and decoration workers. As was the fashion in those days he received rudiments of education and his fancy caught the lure of painting and he became a painter in Maiden Theatre, Calcutta, as a scenario artist where he worked for fourteen years. Thereafter, he shifted to Pioneer Film Studio, Calcutta, and worked there for four years. Hari Singh was disciple of Malla Ram. His frescos remind us of Italian frescos. His life's best specimens were done on the walls of Royal Talkies, Amritsar, which was destroyed by fire in the riots of 1947. He richly contributed to architectural and ornamental paintings and gracefully died in 1970.
There was one Thakur Lal Singh artist who worked at the Nabha court, 20 kilometres from Patiala. He illustrated M.A. Macauliffe's The Sikh Religion, with most beautiful miniature portraits of ten Gurus. Then come Hasanal-din, Jiwan Ram (from Meerut, U.P.). Artist Jiwan Ram was a member of suite of Lord William Bentinck when the latter came in Punjab in 1831 to meet Ranjit Singh. He painted the best portrait of the Maharaja, which was displayed in the exhibition of 1864 held at Lahore. Mohd Azim and others also reached Lahore from Delhi to seek patronage and employment and they did well. Hasanal-din's works are now preserved in the India Office Library and Records, London.
There was one Karm Singh artist during the reign of Sher Singh in Lahore who was perfect in painting, golden work, ironwork, woodwork, and architect's work etc. He was excellent in ivory-painting and ivory work as well. Kali Rai, then Deputy Collector of Ambala Division noticed him during his tour of Punjab in 1846.
Then came the family of Pahari painters who came to the Punjab plains
in search of new patrons. They did an excellent job there. They brought
with them Pahari style, its delicacy of line, flowing movements, architectural
details, ladies' beauty, nature's bounties which were not available in
the plains. They even adjusted to the new environment, new patrons and
new philosophy of life, and also new tastes. They produced Sikh subjects
in Pahari style for some time and this period is called Pahari- Kangra
phase of Punjab painting. Miniatures (individual portraits) were painted,
books were illustrated, walls were embellished in this style depicting
mythologies from Hindu scriptures and also Janam Sakhis from Sikh religion.
It is a matter of great significance that Sikh Gurus and Gurus' Janam
Sakhis were for the first time illustrated in Punjab in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries but not during the last four centuries of growth
of Sikh religion. After that there was a mushroom growth of paintings
of Gurus both in water-colour and oils during the last phase of the nineteenth
century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Hence, it would be
fruitful to analyse the genealogy of major Pahari artists in Punjab plains.
Kashmiri contribution in the development of painting in Punjab plains cannot be lost sight of. Persons of various trades and crafts, specially weaving and silk industry, came to the business centres of Punjab, viz Lahore and Amritsar. Two most important names have come down to us as the artists-cum-calligraphers of very high order. They are Pandit Daya Ram Kaul Tota and his son Pandit Raja Ram Kaul Tota who have left behind several Persian manuscripts with beauti-ful illustrations which give an idea of the state of book illumination in Punjab of those times.
Raja Ram Kaul alias Tota) was a calligraphist in the Kohinoor Press, Lahore. He was a very good artist. He wrote 'Zafar-Nama Guru Gobind Singh'. This manu-script is illustrated and the author did the paintings. It narrates the events till death of Ranjit Singh. Another work by him Gulgashat-e-Punjab, which was written in 1864 is the history of Punjab from the earliest times till the annexation of Punjab in 1849. Then he transcribed Gulab-Nama and Gulzar-e-Kashmir written by Diwan Kirpa Ram. Raja Ram Kaul Tota was a good Persian writer besides being an artist. Late Prof Sita Ram Kohli who edited Zafar-Nama Ranjit Singh in 1928 says that Dewan Amar Nath in Persian during the period 1833 ard 1836 and transcribed by Pandit Raja Ram Kaul Tota originally wrote it in 1856. At the end of this manuscript the calligraphist-cum~copyist gives his name as Pandit Raja Ram alias Brahmin Kashmiri. He further tells us that the manuscript was transcribed for Lala Das Mal, at Lahore, in Samvat 1912, A.D. 1856 and the artist got ten rupees as his wages on 17 November 1857 and "Abdullah", a book-binder got one-and-a-half rupees as his charges and its receipt having been recorded on this manuscript as on 23 July 1895 respectively.
This does not give us information only of the artist who worked in nineteenth century but also focuses our attention on the economic aspect of this type of work. It may lead us to believe what type of social condition prevailed between various categories of profession that existed a century and a quarter ago. Suffice it to say that artists, painters, calligraphists and naqqasha. came to Punjab from all direc-tions in search of bread. Then, finally, comes the turn of Patiala centre, where the artisans and builders came from the Hills, Rajasthan, Awadh and Delhi after the collapse of the Mughal adminis-tration. And they found very receptive and congenial working condition in Patiala as also in the neighbouring princely states of Nabha, Jhind, Kapurthala, Ladava etc. It was just like Lahore where artists belonging to all religious sections were found working side by side peacefully.
As already mentioned, Patiala had been a centre of art, architecture, literature, music and in other walks of life fr(m the pericd of Karam Singh. It attracted skilled and experienced artisans and builders from Rajasthan who built famous palaces and forts there. A renowned mistri Ude Ram Jaipuria came from Jaipur (Rajasthari) in the times of Karam Singh, then a large contingent of artistic workers followed him to Patiala. Although scholars like N.C. Mehta and A. Ghosh have referred in their writings about the development of a school of painting at Patiala, they could not provide us with any particular artist or group of artists who worked at Patiala. This might be perhaps due to the absence of inscriptional evidence on the paintings of Patiala. But according to the oral evidences now available from the descendants of Ude Ram Jaipuria it may be stated with some degree of certitude that artists and builders came to Patiala from Rajasthan, as also from Western Himalayas, now known as Himachal Pradesh. With Ude Rim came Bagh Mal, Ganga Bakhsh and Shiva Ram. Shiva Ram and Rama Nand also worked at Rani Mahal, Nabha. Mohammad Sharif and Basharat Ullah were the disciples of Shiva Ram at Patiala. These artists were of migratory nature and, hence, worked at Jammu, Kashmir, Kapurihala, Singrur, Nabba, Patiala, etc. Hukam Chand, Gopi Singh Patel and Dhanna Lal mistris also worked in Patiala in the nineteenth century. There are certainly some other names such as Beeba and Keru who have been identified by the scholars in this field like Dr B.N. Goswamy and Prof S.S. Talwar during the past decade. According to the former, Pahari painter Devi Datta of Nainsukh and Parkhu family had worked in Patiala in 1865 during Mahendra Singh's times. This is confirmed by entries in travellers account (Bahis) maintained by Pandit Piyare Lal at Hardwar. Then, Prof S.S.Talwar of the Department of Museums and Archaeology (who had collected sufficient drawings, sketches, tracings, paintings in Patiala in the early sixties) informed me on 30 December 1972 and 1 January 1973 that the artists Shibba and Shiva Narayan had also worked at Patiala. Artists' sketches of portraits of each other were also in his collection, as for example, of artists Pars Ram, Radha Kishan, Nainsukh, Noadha Ram. It appears from the foregoing that painters and artists flocked to Patiala from Hills and Rajasthan etc., and worked for the Patiala Durbar.
Some time back a painting of Maharaja Rajendra Singh of Patiala by artist
Kishan Singh was found with a New Delhi connoisseur. Again this collector
also purchased a painting of Hakim Sadra Udin of Nabha by artist Bhagat
Eminent artists with thorough grounding in Mughal miniature painting tradition came from Delhi and settled in the generous princely Court of Patiala about one hundred and seventy-five years ago. The ancestor of this famous family was Ustad Allah Ditta, his illustrious son Sheikh Basharat Ullah was also a renowned painter of Patiala Durbar. Ustad Allah Ditta worked on several themes of local mythology and religious motifs incorporating the styles and colours of great Mughal miniature painting tradition. Evidence proffered to this author by Mr Arif Rehman Chughtai, Director, Chughtal Museum Trust Lahore (Pakistan) is very significant in this regard and I am extremely grateful to him for this help. Then Ustad Allah Ditta's grandson Haji Mohammad Sharif whose father Sheikh Basharat U'lah died when the former was just in infancy. This hereditary tradition of painting flourished in Patiala Durbar with full royal encouragement. Patiala mesmerised other top artists of Delhi like Mohamad Hussain Khan. Then, there was one Lala Shaoo Ram under whose discipleship Haji Mohd Sharif learnt the delicate art of painting in Patiala after the death of his father. Alas, the tragic blow of the partition of India in 1947 snatched from us this famous artist and he migrated to Lahore, where he began preparing the younger generation of Mussavars in traditional painting in National College of Art (formerly known as Mayo School of Art). Our Patialawi artist died in Lahore in December 1978, leaving behind unforgettable legacy of painting, which perhaps none else would perform, in his memorable style, manner, charm of perfection and life-likeness of the portraits he painted.
There was a practice among artists to transfer their skill of painting either to their sons or to some favourite pupil but to none else and this continued for generations. But no hard and fast generaliza-tion can be drawn in each case. One descendant of artist is a practicing hakim in Amritsar, another is a contractor, yet another is running a flour mill at Patiala, and the Chughtai family at Lahore (now in Pakistan) has adopted a vocation other than that of its ancestors. But one thing must be said here without any prejudice about the descendants of Chughtai family like Arif Rehman Chughtai, Abdur Rahim Chughtai, and Dr Mohammad Abdullah Chughtai that, although not practicing artists today, they are very keen promoters of art, art critics and art historians of great merit and have contributed a great deal towards salvaging the art of their ancestors as also in preserving the history of this creative art with loving care.