Wednesday, July 30, 2014





William Carpenter ( 1818-1899 ) was a Visual artist from England who travelled extensively in India . He also visited Kashmir possibly three times during summers of 1853 , 1854 and 1855 AD . He stayed in India for about 7 years and kept himself busy in travel and paining .

WILLIAM CARPENTER was a master in drawing Water colour Landscapes . His water colours show life in Amritsar city , Devotees inside Golden Temple , Bazaars of Delhi , Benares Ghats ,Mosques , Forts , Rural life of India , Sadhus , Meditating men, Jain Temples , Forts of Rajasthaan ,Havelis , Jama Masjid of Delhi , Portraits of Indian rulers ,Jharokhas and so many other scenes and structures that relate to India . The Victoria and Albert Museum bought over 280 of his paintings. His water colours are being exhibited in various galleries world over .

In 1853 ,he made a Doonga trip to Kheer Bhawani shrine via Nalla Maar and drew some fantastic landscapes .  He also visted various shrines  of Kashmir including Makhdoom  Sahib’s  Ziyarat at hari Parbat  and painted its  inside view .  I add his water colours ( two  ) showing morning scene at Kheer Bhawani shrine Tulamula with kashmiri Pandits taking a bath( before entering the Sanctum sanctorum ) and therafter sitting inside the shrine under Chinar Trees  .The paintings have beeen done in 1853.
And now his water colour ( done in 1855 ) showing inside view of  Ziyarat of Makhdoom Sahib in srinagar city.
       And below lies his water colour ( done in 1854 ) of Shah e Hamdaan Mosque in Downtown Sringar city ..
And a water colour of Beautiful Nigeen Lake of Kashmir done by the Artist in 1855

 Below Uploaded painting done by William Carpenter  is titled "MOTHER AND CHILD JHELUM RIVER, CASHMERE 1854" .

Looking at this picture I observe  that the artist has painted Mother and child belonging to the hardworking Haanji ( Boatmen ) community of Kashmir. The Hairstyle and Kasaba ( Headscarf ) worn by the woman is typical and belongs to this community . The child is in tatters but carefree and innocent . The mother and the child are holding Oars and the mother is possibly teaching the child to paddle the boat at NUMM position . Kalhana calls this hardworking community of kashmir as NISHADAS . Both mother and the child are Pensive. God alone knows what the future has stored for them . I would name the painting as INNOCENCE OF POVERTY .

Then there is another painting  done again in 1855 that shows the Market of Zaina kadal in Down town srinagar .

I have seen many old photographs of this market . It was exacatly like this. Pulses especially MOONG grown in north kashmir ( Baramulla Belt ) were largely sold by kashmiri traders . The structures on the river bank were made of wood . Fresh vegetables ( Bulk ) ,Rice (mushkabudej, Zag etc. ), and pickle was also sold by local traders in this market . Fresh Fish , dried Fish ( Hoggaad ) and smoked Fish ( Furrie ) was sold at nearby Gaankhan in a lane that came to be known as Gaadda Kocha Zaina kadal . This was the biggest market for local produce . You can see Pickle kept in earthen pitchers on roof tops of these rickety shops . A voguvv ( Dry weed mat ) has been used as a sunshade by a shopkeeper .

The painting uploaded below shows   Second Bridge of srinagar or what is presently known as Habba Kadal.

The water colour depicts a busy market on the bridge . A market of Rickety wooden structures that sold vegetables , fish , rice , and of course Pickle . Pickle has been kept in earthen pitchers over the rooftops of these shops . This was a retail market and not like the Zaina Kadal Wholesale market . Shah Hamdaan shrine is also visible from below the bridge . The poverty of  the shirtless Boatman is starkly visible.

Another water colour uploaded below  depicts inside view of Shah e Hamdaan Shrine near fateh Kadal srinagar .

This water colour has been done in 1855 by William Carpenter . It depicts inside view of Shah e Hamdaan shrine In srinagar .You can see the kashmiri dress ; A Pheran , Dastaar and Kheish ( Chadder ) of the devotees who are engaged in Duroodkhwaani . The elegant Velvet and silken cloth sheets cover the Ceilings and walls inside the shrine. Locally produced ( Handlooms ) Velvet and silk cloth was extensively used by Kashmiris to decorate their shrines within. Even Kashmiri Merchants introduced Velvet to Baghdad during the rule of Harun al-Rashid .

William carpenter has also painted Mughal Gardens . His water colour  depicting Nishat Garden  is a visual  treat ..

Besides general views of Kashmir valley and its lakes, William carpenter  painted Shah Hamadan’s shrine , Kheer Bhawani shrine , Makhdoom sahib ‘s shrine , old-fashioned wooden houses , streets of Srinagar, Bridges across the Jhelum River , Scenes around Mar canal, Kashmiri women and Nautch girls. He also visited and painted Lalitaditya’s Sun Temple at Martand in south Kashmir . He met Shaikh Imam-ud Din ,the Sikh Governor of Kashmir, who had been dethroned by Maharaja Ghulab singh. He painted beautiful Portraits of The Maharaja and Sheikh Imam Ud Din. 


(  Portrait of  Maharaja   Ghulab singh painted by  William Carpenter )


                                     ( Kashmiri Nautch Girls painted by William Carpenter  )

In 1881 he held his solo exhibtion in England , displaying about 280 Water colours done in India . After this Exhibition all his paintings were purchased by Victoria Allbert Museum England where they are on display presently .

William Carpenter was a bachelor .His mother Mrs Margret carpenter was also a Portrait Artist .
Water colour tradition is not New  ; It had a glorious past with some Grand Masters creating wonders ...

Rekhtay ke tum hi ustaad nahin ho "Ghalib "
Kehtay hain aglay zamaane mein koyee Mir bhi thhaa.....

( AUTAR    MOTA   30.07.2014 )

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