Wednesday, December 26, 2018




( The stars fell from the skies and the pearls got lost in the dust )

( Photo..Village Mahind under snowfall )

Before 1990, when he lived in his village Mahind, Bijbihara , he was a Brahmin who wore his Janew ( sacred thread ) and performed Sandhya every morning at the village spring. That is how the Pandits of the village understood him. For them, he was a saint who recited Shlokas from Mahimnapaar (Shivmahima-Stotra ) extempore.For the Muslims of the village , he was a Darvesh , a Faquir and Peer Sahib . He was the faith healer and Sarparast who gave Taweez. A trusted Peer to many Muslims .And he remained a Mastaana ( carefree ) all along .His songs were sung in private gatherings . His Naats and Leelas were also sung in private assemblies .And in 1990 , when he had to leave everything and move to Jammu as refugee , he was Sham Lal , a Kashmiri Migrant of ‘Nagorta Tented Accommodation ’. A homeless , unknown , displaced person struggling to exist . He had turned silent, pensive and a little detached when I saw him last . Yet , poetry he never abandoned.

Father of four daughters , Sham Lal was a poet of a different class . The Sufiana and love flavour of his poetry remained intact even after 1990. I came to know him through my friend Tej Dhar ( son of Prof A N Dhar ) of Safa Kadal, Srinagar . Tej had more than thirty years of steady association with Sham Lal .Sham Lal had a small shop where he practised modern allopathic medicine and Unani Hikmat , a profession that he had learnt from some person in Srinagar.His father was a Sufiana singer and Sitarist who would join music assemblies of Bhagwan Gopi Nath Ji along with Ved Lal Vakil. He came to be known as Maheshwar Seytaaer in his close circle . Many music assemblies were organised at Mahind by Maheshwar Nath wherein Sufiana singers participated. Later , Ghulam Nabi Doolwal, a well-known singer from Kishtwar also started coming to Mahind . And finally, Doolwal would invariably come to Mahind as and when he was in Srinagar. Recently , I came to know that Sham Lal is no more . His daughters are married . The youngest died in a tragic road accident in Jammu . My friend , Tej Dhar does not know the present whereabouts of the family. Here is  sample of his poetry that I remember :-

 “Ba khoon e dil lechhomus khat khabar nah-novmut ma chhun..
 Athhas kyathh sheesha dil dyutmuss khabar phutrovmut ma chhun.
 Gayoss saen tsoor laagithh hauz e konsar manz aneyom pyalla
 Mayassar bronthakaeni thhovmas  khabar chhakrovmut ma chhun.”…………(Sham Lal )

 ( Using my heart’s blood as ink 
 I scripted the letter for him,
 Maybe he erased the entire transcript ! 
 Has he ? I don’t know.
 This glass-like fragile heart too 
 I had put in his custody ,
 Maybe he broke it into pieces ! 
 Has he ? I don’t know.
 For him ,
 Like a thief ,
 I rushed to fetch a drink from Kaunser Naag lake ,
This too I kept at his disposal ,
 Maybe he wasted it away ! 
 Has he ? I don’t know.)

 “Tse vuchh ta yaarus chhu kyaah malaalai 
 Chhu-sai me saetein hisaab kaertan
 Ti poora horuss yi zun ba daarus
 Me lolakuyi mataa azaab kaertan
 Ba thaava poorithh yi door tas kyoot 
 Su vaati kunni kien tamis chhu vaatun
 Me raatchh roozithh ya maatchh rotchhmus
 Su Sheeritan ya kharaab kaertan”……………….( Sham Lal )
 ( Could you please find it out 
 What grievance my love has against me ?
 If he has it , 
 Then let him square it up ,
 I shall repay fully what falls due to him,
 But in Love , 
 let him not put me in this pain and agony .
 For him ,
 Again I shall keep this garden
 blooming with flowers ,
 I know he has to come and he will;
 This sweetness ,
 I have been guarding for a long, 
 Now, let him come ,
 Taste it or spill it away ..)
 ( Avtar Mota )


(1) An Autumn View of Dara Shikoh Park Bijbihara kashmir ..
(2) Post snowfall view of village Mahind...

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018




Kashmiri style of Hair cutting / Dressing And open Air Massage atop a Houseboat ...Not a roadside Barber.. A VIP barber wearing Neat and clean clothes with a white turban. No gossip monger like the Bazaar or Mohalla Barber . No treatment for Boils or pimples. Gentleman. and Professional .

His customers used to be Europeans and Houseboat Tourists . Would always arrive in a Shikara with Tool box.( Kheuss ) .

( Avtar Mota )

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 “My work exists on two levels, in the relationship between the background and the foreground and how they talk to each other. It's also a satire on human society and the human condition in general.”…Raqib Shaw 

 Raqib Shaw (born in 1974) is a new sensation in the world of Modern Art. Raqib Shaw is a Kashmiri artist who came to London in 1993 where he has since lived and worked. His work is opulent and intricate. Shaw lives and works in his Peckham studio in south London, a city he first visited in 1992 and where he enrolled at Central St Martins in 1998, completing his MA in 2002. As a young man, Shaw became familiar with the aesthetic production of the region as he worked for his family enterprise selling jewelry, antiques, textiles, and carpets .His work has been the subject of important solo exhibitions since shortly after his graduation, including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2018); Whitworth, Manchester (2017); Rudolfinum, Prague (2013); Manchester Art Gallery (2013); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (2006); and Tate Britain, London (2006). His bronze sculptures have created a buzz in the world of art. I saw his work. It is flora, fauna, bright colours, human images( that have partly animal features), geometrical combinations, exquisite pillars, decorated halls, dreamscapes and whatnot. He has wonderfully combined Eastern and Western influences. By Eastern, I mean entire Asian. He uses a range of unusual media – including rhinestones, glitter and enamel. He paints figures, carpets, costumes and mythical landscapes with exquisite skill, using a painstaking method that recalls the cloisonné technique used since ancient times to decorate metalwork and ceramics. He is inspired by crafts like silver-smithing, tapestry work, and jewellery making. In his work, carpet designs are mixed with industrial materials and Japanese techniques and all are brought to canvas. The world has noticed his arrival. His work commands a substantial price in Europe and the US. Throughout his career, Shaw has created images of magic and mystery, in which references to Western art history are seamlessly combined with ornamental elements derived from the Japanese prints and kimonos, Persian miniatures, and Indian textiles that he vividly remembers from his youth.

 There is hardly any museum in the world where his art has not been exhibited. Shaw has had solo exhibitions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, MOMA ( New York ), The National Portrait Gallery ( London ), Frist Museum, Nashville ( USA ), National Galleries ( Scotland ), Galerie Rudolfinium ( Prague ), Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (2006), Tate Britain, London (2006), Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna, Venice and also at many prominent art galleries and museums the world over.

 About Shaw’s art, Urvi Kothari writes this:-

 “Shaw’s enamelled art and miniature detailing allures one towards delayering these mystical intricacies and eventually finds oneself walking into sheer magnificence, what I would call the magnum opus or the ultimate grand finale of this exhibition. Shaw’s art is a meeting point wherein the East meets the West. There is a diasporic sense of identity, time and space that is highlighted across certain curated elements in his paintings. Each piece - quite often monumental in scale - holds a unique aesthetic, an imaginative aura and a subtle hint of connected personal history.”

  Remembering  Kashmir of his childhood and its rich culture, Raqib Shaw says this:-

 “In Kashmir, the pace of life was very slow. I would spend my time reading second-hand copies of the English classics and admiring the seasons. My earliest memory of Kashmir is that of colour kinds of flowers, totally uncoordinated. I used to live in an imaginary world and had invisible friends-most of the gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology. My private tutors were Hindu Pandits and they would explain how the Himalayas were the home of Shiva and how every name of a mountain range, lake, glacier and village in Kashmir was named after a mythological figure or event. There were so many stories that would conjure up fantastic visions. I always want to think of Kashmir as the birthplace of Shaivism, the land of the Sufis, with the unique language spoken mainly in metaphor, where the people are inseparable from nature and the incredible beauty that surrounds them, a culture deeply steeped in animism where humans lived in harmony with nature. Sadly, now it is different from my romanticised vision based on histories of the past. I grew up in Srinagar in a Muslim family and went to a Christian school where we would say the Lord’s Prayer every day . . . an elderly retired professor taught me all about Kashmiri Shaivism . . . It was good.”

 Raqib Shaw paints with enamels, using a needle-sharp porcupine quill. Breathtaking in their intricacy with flamboyant colours, his paintings are the product of months of intense work. His bronze sculptures have created a buzz in the world of art. Raqib Shaw's work has been offered at auction multiple times, with variable prices depending on the size and medium of the artwork. Since 2005 the record price for this artist at auction is 5,508,928 USD for Garden of Earthly Delights III, sold at Sotheby's London in 2007. With that price, he has surpassed all his senior Indian artists including S H Raza. Shaw draws on a wide range of sources including art history, mythology, poetry, theatre, religion, science and natural history. Some important paintings of Raqib Shaw can be listed as under:-


(1)   Fall Of The Jade Kingdom II - Paradise Lost II, 2014… (oil, acrylic, glitter, enamel and rhinestones on birchwood)

(2)   Puck's Predicament after the Rains from Midsummer Night's Dream2017-2018 (acrylic, enamel, watercolour and rhinestones on paper laid on board) 

(3) Reflections on the Country Without a Post Office 2020 …(scorched earth acrylic and enamel on aluminium)

(4)   Napoleon I - Of Beasts and Super Beasts 2012  …(acrylic, enamel and rhinestones on canvas )

(5) Self-portrait in the Study at Peckham (A Reverie after Antonello da Messina’s Saint Jerome) …2014 ( acrylic, glitter, enamel and rhinestones on birchwood)

(6) La Tempesta (after Giorgione) (detail), 2019–21…(acrylic liner and enamel on birchwood)

(7) Kashmir Danae (After Gossaert), 2017… (acrylic liner, enamel and rhinestones on birchwood)

(8) Monkey King Boudoir II 2012…( graphite , enamel ,glitter ,acrylic and rhinestones on paper )

(9) Allegory of Memories through Monozukuri

(10) Spring from The Four Seasons

(11) From Narcissus to Icarus (After Déjeuner sur l’herbe)

(12) Ode to the Valley of Wonderment

(13) Summer Solitude (I and II)

(14) Midsummer Night's Dream..,.2017 (Etching with hand-colouring in watercolour, on Fine Art paper, with full margins)

(15)  Last Rights of the Artist’s Ego at Shankryacharya Temple (after Ludovico Mazzolino)… 2015-16

(16) The Departure (After Tintoretto) (detail)…2021–22. (Acrylic liner and enamel on aluminum)

.About Raqib Shaw’s art, Sharmistha Ray (New York-based artist, art critic and writer) writes this:- 

 There's no doubt that Raqib Shaw has carved out a singular niche for himself in the treacherous terrains of the global art world that can sometimes swallow talent as fast as it discovers it. With a slew of museum exhibitions already under his belt and more on the way, the bluest of blue-chip galleries backing him, and adoring collectors who swear by his work, Shaw is getting the kind of endorsement he needs to be a long-term player in the art world.”

 His exhibits at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, titled The Milk of Dreams ( April 23-November 27, 2022), at the Giardini and the Arsenale, Venice had large crowds visiting to see his work. In May 2020, Shaw was featured in the third episode of the first series of Grayson's Art Club, talking in his studio about his art. Grayson's Art Club is a Channel 4 television documentary series hosted by artist Grayson Perry and his wife Philippa Perry.

 Shaw’s  parents were in the business of carpets, handicrafts and jewellery. Born in Kolkata, Raqib had his upbringing and education in Kashmir. The family had to shift to Delhi post-1990 due to armed militancy.  Raqib has done post-graduation in Art from London. And he says:-

  " Art is my religion. I am a part of humanity, not any sect and group.”

  I knew Shaw carpets, Shaw Brothers, Shaw Sons and Shaw Traders. They were  educated and wealthy exporters of carpets, handicrafts, curios, rugs, Pashmina, Kani and Shahtoos shawls in the Kashmir valley. One family from this clan had his business establishment in Nepal as well and was close to the Ranas ( old rulers) of Nepal. Is he from this Shaw clan? I don't know. But I know for certain that RaibShaw is going to touch the sky with his creativity and unique style.

  (Avtar Mota)

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Monday, December 24, 2018




SHAM  LAL KHAAR  (Born 1937 )  ..The Last surviving  Artist Of  The Martand School of Miniature Art..

"After me  , nobody from Martand shall pick up brush. I am the last  person of a school that we call Martand School or Koshur Qalam in Miniature Art. No Govt agency or individual is interested in looking at it, leave alone its preservation or revival.

Avtar ji, Come to kashmir during summers and i shall show you more than 1000 paintings that i have done and that are in lock and key. I have mostly done work on Trika. I live for 6 months in Mattan  that is my hometown. Here in Jammu ,i have nothing, except some sketches ,old work and  photocopies. You can see or photograph these  few old  paintings.

In Mattan, We had three orginal  paintings of Narayan joo Murtchgar . The original  portrait of Mahatma Parmanand done by the great artist  , second  a picture of Shiva Bhagwati of Akingam and third Bhargshikha Bhagwati  of Martand  painted by Narayan Murchgar. All lost in the turmoil. Narayan joo Murchgar, Devi Koul  and Vasudev Gariyali were finest miniature painters kashmir ever saw. They would come to Mattan. My grand father learnt from Narayan joo  Murchgar  . Some families in Mattan and Akura  learnt from other sources .

My grand daughter  Chandsi  is a gifted Miniature Artist. I want her to get some professional training in Art  but she is pursuing B.Tech. She is equally brilliant in studies. I can't enforce my will.See her work. For me, Age is an issue now.

Say about 100 years back , People from Mattan would visit Punjab and copy Manuscripts .You get me. Pandulipikaars.   Many people knew Sharda and Sanskrit and drawing. Mattan has  centuries old history of close connection with Punjab and Sikh gurus .Pandit   Aru Ram Dutt from Mattan was blessed by Guru Har Rai. Pandit Kirpa Ram Dutt  became Kirpa singh and sacrificed his life in the historic battle of Chamkaur sahib when he joined  sikh  soldiers of  Guru Gobind singh ji . Sanmukh Singh ( Sanmukh Ram Dutt younger brother of Kirpa Ram ) was another shaheed  at the battle of Chamkaur Sahib. These persons find glorious mention in sikh scriptures.  And Guru Nanak Dev ji addressed a huge congregation of Brahmins from Mattan at Nagbal just below those lofty chinars.

In Mattan town we had some persons who did painting work  on horscopes .Men like Sri Nath Sher or Anand Sher  or Keshav Nath Jogi. In Akura, a village across lidder stream and close to Mattan town, we had Lakshman Nath.One or two persons were also doing miniature paintings for Horscopes in Bijbihara who  stopped this work after printed pictures were readily available in the market.

I painted as  a  hobby and did   sketches , illustrations and miniature work based on Trika and other religious themes.

In olden  days,  people used vegetable colours. Some colours used to come from Kashgar in  central Asia like Kashgar safeda .Later colours came from Lahore. Glue ,gum , indigo, saffron, Red lead,  Henna, turmeric, yellow ochre (Ramraj)  white zinc oxide  powder and even   dung was   used as colour .Colours were also  extracted from Marigold flowers, Carrots, Apricots and  Pomegranates . Finally synthetic  water colours and oil paints  started coming to kashmir and vegetable and fruit colours were abandoned. However, Saffron  continued to be used  for border and outline work.

Some muslims were also doing Painting in Mattan town. Two or three persons. Insha Wudoo daughter of Mr  Manzoor Ganai is a Girl from Mattan who has excelled in Painting.  She learnt from me. My blessings are for her. She has made us feel proud."

Maharaj Shah noted writer from Mattan adds 

 " We have been seeing Shyam Lal Ji working on different creative ventures but his main passion is with the brush. He used to take keen interest in dramatics and do set designing. I used his paintings in a TV serial titled Kahani Kashmir Ki. I have been knowing him since my childhood days and initially our childhood days would perceive him as a very mysterious person, who would more often remain indoors confined to his studios."

That is what he told me when alongwith poet Maharaj Krishen santoshi , i  visited him today at his Muthi residence in jammu. I found him resembling  urdu poet John Elia. And incidentally , he spoke some sentences  in that style . He is plus 80,  not well but looked after by his son and daughter in law with due care and attention. . He is a poet, painter, short story writer and a novelist. Cultural Academy has published a book authored by him on MINIATURE Paintings  . As we started to leave, he stood up ,shook his hand  firmly  and said :

"  Next time  come for Lunch . I feel happy to talk to  people who understand what i am doing.This art along with this  Artist , Both   are a  fast fading Phenomenon . No one to take up brush for this work thereafter.   "

(Avtar Mota )

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                          ( A song written by Shanta  Kaul composed and sung by Dalip Langoo) 
                                                                 (Mrs. Shanta Kaul)       

                                                                  (Mrs. Shanta Kaul)

( The happy days.......Shanta ji ,Pran Kishore ,their daughter and popular broadcaster Uma kKhosla (Niki Appa) .




She was amongst the first women to defy orthodoxy and fight for women’s emancipation to take to broadcasting and be in the cultural forefront of the Kashmir Valley. She was the first woman broadcaster from Kashmir. A poet, writer, actor and singer, Shanta Kaul was an amazing personality. Most of the female announcers who joined Radio Kashmir later learnt the basics of broadcasting from her. Even Uma Khosla ( Nikki Appa ) has acknowledged her support and guidance. Her mellifluous voice as the character ‘Appa Jaan’ in the weekly `Bachon ka Programme`, which she produced and presented, made her the darling of the state`s children whom she enthralled for 25 long years. If she was affectionate Apaa Jaan of children's programme, she was Khatiji of Pushkar Bhan's Machama series of radio plays. Shanta Kaul`s popularity transcended the national border with her programme `Aap ki Farmaish` earning her admirers in Pakistan. For her service in the broadcasting industry, she received several awards, including the Bakshi Memorial Award for Best Broadcaster in 1989.


Shaheed Sherwani Married to Pran Kishore Kaul, writer, painter and pioneer of radio drama in the UT, Shanta Kaul started her radio journey in 1950. People remember her for Aap Ki Farmaaish, Bachon Ka Programme and many other programmes. Her presentation style was at par with Mariyam Qazmi or Anzar Ahmed of AIR's Urdu service. She would have touched newer heights in broadcasting had she moved to AIR's National scene.


 In 1950, she was the first woman actor to perform on stage when she acted in Prem Nath Pardesi's play. She was also associated with 'Shaair e Kashmir Mehjoor ' the first feature film in Kashmiri. Her collection of short stories, `Kaali Raat Ka Suraj`, was well received and reviewed by many leading newspapers. Many stories were translated into English. She has also a collection of poems ‘Anant-Yatra ‘ to her credit.


Well-known journalist Mohammad Syed Malik writes this:-


 "She was the Radio voice of her time. Consistent in her presentation qualities, announcement, Stage show or drama. Together with Pran Ji, they made an ideal couple reflecting the best of our culture." 


Padam-Shri Pran  Kishore  Kaul told me this:_


“I feel pained that she was probably over-shadowed because of the limelight I got. I have confessed in my book on Radio Kashmir that it was because of her solid support that I gained whatever little I have achieved. It is because of her grooming that our daughters Neerja, and Sanjala have done well in their professions and personal life. While Neerja writes and paints, Sanjala has been a former Dean of Faculty at Welham School, Dehradun. Shanta Ji's collection of Short stories. “Kali Raat Ka Sooraj ‘was very well received by Hindi critics. Many of them were broadcast and published. A few were translated into English. Her collection of poems Anant Yatra was published in a Coffee Table format. Her ‘Farmaishi Programme’ of old songs with input of selected verses in Urdu was not only popular in the country but also in Pakistan where she used to get letters and sometimes gifts too.”


 In 2012, Shanta Kaul died in Pune after a brief illness.


 (Avtar Mota)

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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