Art of India’s Deccan Sultans – A Curator’s Journey
Navina Haidar (OS84)
An exhibition on the art of the Sultans of Deccan India was a long held goal of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which was finally realized after almost ten years of research and planning. My involvement with the project as one of its curators led me into a hidden facet of Indian tradition and history and a world of great beauty. Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700; Opulence and Fantasy opened at the museum in April 2015 and showcases the artistic heritage of five kingdoms that flourished in India’s Deccan region in the 16th and 17th centuries. The art reflects the Deccan’s cultural and artistic connections to Iran, Turkey, Europe and Africa and the cosmopolitan nature of its courts.
Putting together this exhibition took a long while partly because the subject was still new. Much work was needed and many relationships had to be built. We had to track down the best objects in collections around the world and negotiate their loans. About seventy lenders (institutions, private collectors and royal families) ultimately lent their treasures to the exhibition. A great deal of reading and study had to be done, not just histories about the courts, but also about the many European traders who were in the region, including the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Many languages had to be studied – Persian, Dakhni, and Telugu among them. Most importantly, a recognition and understanding of the Deccan’s art objects had to come about, and that takes time.
One of the great achievements of Deccan art is its sophisticated court painting, particularly that of Bijapur. Under the patronage of Sultan Ibrahim ‘Adil Shah II in the early seventeenth century, this kingdom welcomed great talents from India, Iran, Africa and Europe. Artists at Bijapur developed imaginative and free styles, setting figures in swaying robes and glowing colors against mysteriously dark backgrounds. Among them was the master Farrukh Husain who captured Ibrahim’s favorite elephant, Atash Khan, and his mate, the female elephant Chanchal. The Deccan was also famed for its kalamkari textiles, produced largely in the territories of the Qutb Shahi sultans of Golconda. Bidar was the center of a distinctive metalwork tradition and many spectacular examples of bidri ware are in the exhibition. Historical diamonds from Golconda are also on display. Needless to say, they attract a good deal of attention for their size and luster.
As a curatorial project the Deccan offers great challenges and rewards. In some ways the exhibition is just a first step as much more needs to be done on the subject. The aesthetic power of the works of art is hard to understate – I saw hundreds of visitors to the exhibition fall under the spell of Deccani art even if it was completely new to them. The mystical traditions of Sufism and Hinduism are richly interwoven and some of the most arresting images are those of holy figures in landscape settings.
Even if one is not able to visit the exhibition one can read about the objects in the well-illustrated catalogue. I hope to send one to the school library. So watch out for a bit of Deccani art, coming to Parker Hall soon !
Navina Najat Haidar (OS, ’84, Nilgiri House) attended the universities of Delhi, London and Oxford. She completed a PhD on the Kishangarh school of Indian painting, and has since worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She was involved in the reinstallation of the museum’s Islamic galleries for many years, and most recently put together an exhibition on the art of India’s Deccan courts. She lectures and publishes on Indian and Islamic art.
UK OS Reunion – Sunday 17th May 2015
Report by Aruna Mongia (nee Sharma), NGD 1967
Another year - Another reunion - But a new venue – On our 15th reunion!
Due to flooding at the Bombay Palace, caused by water coming down from the floor above, we were forced to find a new venue at very short notice – and thanks to my husband, Max, we were able to find “Indali Lounge” an impressive venue on Baker Street.
The majority preferred this venue to the Bombay Palace – so we may switch to “Indali Lounge” for the future.
It would perhaps be appropriate to mention at this stage that it has become the norm to hold our reunions in London on the 3rd Sunday in May each year.
The next reunion will be on Sunday 15th May 2016 – venue to be confirmed. Please make a note of the date in your diary.
Unfortunately, some of our regulars were not able to attend this year due to illness, but several others who had booked, just did not turn up, which is a shame, as the restaurant had closed their doors to the public due to the high number we were expecting.
We had 67 bookings but only 54 actually attended.
Sir Henry sent his apologies. He had been down with a virus for a week or so and was still unwell.
We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him next year. And the same goes for George Browne, Tony Cook and a couple of guests too.
We welcomed Jitender Singh Chandel, President Elect of the OSS, who came specifically to attend the reunion and brought gifts for the senior OS. They each received a framed School Badge, and the men also received a Lapel Pin and Cuff Links. They were all delighted with their gifts.
Thank you Jitender!
We were also delighted to welcome three OS from batch of 2014!
Namely: Tanya Sandhu, Poornavijay Singh and Ayush Modi. Thank you for coming along.
It would be wonderful to see more, younger OS attend the reunions regularly.
It was also nice to see a few more new faces this year. Anuradha and friends, Diwaker ……
Drinks and canapés were served around the bar area whilst we mingled and chatted. This was followed by a buffet lunch. And we ended with singing the first and last verse of the school song.
Hoping to see many more OS next year,
Aruna Mongia (nee Sharma)
Attendees, 17th May 2015 OS Reunion
Following a very successful OS lunch in London last weekend (May 17 2015), Aruna Mongia (NBD 67), Jitender Chandel (NBD 75) and myself visited Violet Goodall (OS43), Sergeant Tilly’s daughter in Swindon. She was delighted to see us and spoke with love of the days that she spent at Sanawar as a child and a young girl. Despite her fading memory, Violet who is now 88 and is confined to a care home, was thrilled to learn that a few OS were visiting her. She met us with a lot of affection, spoke about the “hot jalebis” that she used to cherish, her trips to Garkhal and of her school mates, many of whom are no more. We sang the school song for her and Jitender presented her a scarf and a photo frame with the school crest on behalf of the OS. Aruna had very thoughtfully carried a box of mithai for her and she was ever so grateful.
I am attaching two photographs that were taken during the visit.Violet did say that she would be delighted to meet any OS that happened to be in the area.
Driving back from Swindon I could not but help thinking about the rich heritage that we enjoy as alumni of “the best school of all”. Its up to us now to cherish and preserve it.
Diwaker Singh (OS75)
The Hodson Runs were instituted by the Reverend Major G.D. Barne, 4th Principal of Sanawar in 1916. Over the years, these long distance runs became important annual events in the School sporting calendar and a feature of School life that continues to this day. Here is a transcription of the hand-written order that started it all off :
“ A new feature of Founder’s Week this year, (1916) will be 3 long distance runs. These will be called after Hodson, who was a famous long distance runner when he was at Rugby School. They will be known as
“the little Hodson”
“the short Hodson” and
“the long Hodson”
“The Little Hodson” for boys under 12 only. The winner will receive a bronze medal and 10 marks for his house. The second will receive a prize and 5 marks for his house. The third will receive a prize and 2 marks for his house. Any boy coming within 2 minutes of the winner will receive two marks for his house.
“The Short Hodson” for boys under 15 only. The winner will receive a bronze medal and 15 marks for his house. The second will receive a prize and 10 marks for his house. The third will receive a prize and 5 marks for his house. Any boy coming within 2 minutes of the winner will receive 3 marks for his house.
“The Long Hodson”. Open. The winner will receive a bronze medal and 25 marks for his house. The second will receive a prize and 15 marks for his house. The third will receive a prize and 10 marks for his house. Any boy coming within 5 minutes of the winner will receive 5 marks for his house. (From the point of view of counting towards the championship silver medal for Athletics, this event will count only as one of the other open events in the sports).
All 3 “Hodsons” will finish through the Archway near the entrance to the Boys School. (The Lawrence Arch”). The course will be as follows:
“Little Hodson” start at Boys School: go up to the Chapel: round to right in the direction of the Principal’s office: sharp to left [‘Nicholson’s Corner’ ed.] in direction of Girls school: “short-back-way” round Head Master’s house and so home.
“Short Hodson” start at Boys school : go up to the Chapel : sharp to right [Lower Chapel road ed.] : under principal’s house : horseshoe and Hospital : “long - back - way” through Kasauli gate [main gate ed. ] and so home.
“Long Hodson” start on top of “Tapp’s Nose”, otherwise known in Sanawar by some as “Monkey Point” ; on to upper mall : through bazaar : round lower bazaar (Kasauli), above Pasteur Institution to Kasauli : Dharampur Cart Road : through Garkhal and so home.
It will be necessary to train for these runs. For this purpose the Boys school will be divided into 3 packs :
Little Pack (all boys under 12)
Lower pack (all boys under 15) and
Upper pack (all boys over 15)
The Packs will go for practice runs regularly on any day which is too wet for cricket or on any day the Head Master may appoint. Packs will always change into games kit for runs and will rechange on coming in. Each pack will have a “Huntsman” and “Whipperson”. These will be appointed from among the senior boys by the Head Master. If Huntsmen and Whippersons of the two lower Packs want sometimes to run with the upper Pack for training, they may apply for leave to find substitutes for them. No pack will ever start running without its “Huntsman” and two “ Whippers - in”
I should like these practice runs to become a feature of our Sanawar Boy’s School life. They can be made very enjoyable and are excellent for training, if properly managed. The “Long Hodson” will be considered one of the coveted athletics honours of the year. It will take a boy of grit, endurance and stamina to win the race”.
Transcribed verbatim from The Lawrence Military Asylum, Sanawar Order Book Page 84, Order No. 269, handwritten and signed by The Reverend G.D. Barne O.B.E.., Principal, dated 7 th July 1916.
Contributed by Sanjaya Varma (OS64)
Coming soon – Sanawar Alumni App. The features are as follows.
News & Events :
Alumni will now receive OS news/ updates on their smartphones. Picture galleries, comments etc will be here.
Use of sharing options such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Whatsapp.
Messages /circulars will be sent through our own App. Inbuilt reporting features will allow the Executive Comm
and Management to gauge our reach and alumni engagement. .
Notifications for important information, voting, surveys etc can all be done here.
Member emails, phone numbers, addresses etc. will all available to the at the click of a button.
Members can now update this information themselves, helping the Association maintain up to date records...
Any changes are instantly and automatically communicated to the administration who will update the data..
Raising funds for school through the App.
Entry to School:
The Alumni will be allowed to enter school on approved days. They can show their registered smart phones with approval at the school gate for entry.
Members can be assured that data security is always our topmost concern and we have spared no effort ensuring its reliability.
Whether it's our specially licensed programming language, secure, stable and encrypted database structures and transmission practices and top of the line native App development, we have it covered.
This is just the start of our upcoming initiative. We will be adding and refining future features and functions based on your feedback and advice.
Copyright ©2011 THE OLD SANAWARIAN SOCIETY
Site credit NZTechnologies