A wonderful addition to a number of books that can be found on Lahore, this volume uses numerous photographs and illustrations to show the changes that Lahore has gone through over the years. The book shall be an important addition to anyone’s collection on Lahore as it tells the story not just textually but also visually.
The city of Lahore will never run out of biographers. It will always, even after it has crumbled beyond habitation and become another Nineveh or Ephesus, find someone who feels inspired enough to chronicle its past and to leave for future historians a personal reconstruction however partial of its identity.
Perhaps the most pedantic of its historians to date must remain Syad Muhammad Latif, whose book Lahore: Its History, Architectural remains and Antiquities, published in 1892, represents an almost magisterial summation of facts known about the city up to the moment of his writing. The conscientiousness with which he marshaled those facts and the manner of his presentation was not surprising, considering his training as an Extra Judicial Assistant Commissioner in Gurdaspur. Dr M. Baqir’s Lahore: Past and Present came sixty years later, in 1952, and although he too derived his sources from earlier accounts and guidebooks, he broadened his references to include vernacular publications about Lahore.
Since then there have been a number of other publications, each providing modern readers with a different vision of Lahore. My earlier book Lahore: Illustrated Views of the 19″ Century for example, presented a panorama of Lahore seen through the eyes of nineteenth century visitors, primarily artists both foreign and local, both professional and amateur. I included also some work of early photographers such as Dr J. McCosh whose calotypes of the Badshahi Masjid and Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s samadhi are as significant to the history of photography as the historic monuments they depict.
The only justification I can offer for compiling a second book on Lahore (beyond a filial affection for my home-city) is that during the intervening ten years since the appearance of my first book, there has been a perceptible, productive response among social historians, archivists, bureaucrats and citizens alike, a palpable and growing concern with the preservation, restoration and if nothing else documentation of Lahore’s unique image. Another unexpected audience that has developed since the appearance of my earlier book is one of individual collectors, many of whom have been fortunate in acquiring early prints, watercolours and lithographs of Lahore, as my wife Shahnaz and I had done when we began collecting more than twenty-five years ago.
Prominent amongst them, and certainly the most forthcoming, has been Mr Robert Scoales, a retired librarian who despite being a Scot lives in Ealing (U.K.), and whenever he is in Lahore, takes rooms (usually No. 3) in the Orient Hotel on McLeod Road. From there, dressed in the superficial camouflage of a white shalwar-kameez, he makes forays into the streets and alleys of Lahore, looking out for anything that will enhance his already formidable knowledge about the architecture and topography of Lahore. If there is a letterbox still in use that carries the initials ‘VR’, of Queen Victoria before she was declared Queen Empress in 1877, Bob is sure to stumble across it. (He did. It stands in the street adjacent to King Edward Medical College.) He scours the footpaths and bookshops in search of unusual books or ephemera about old Lahore. And when he returns to Ealing, he continues his search, scanning the catalogues of specialist bookshops and postcard fairs for any material about Lahore. Bob has not only assembled an enviable collection of such valuable material but also generously agreed to its use in this publication. He carried much of it over on successive visits to be examined by me and to be scanned for this publication. For his unstinting largesse and warm friendship, I offer my deepest thanks, akin to the intensity of a dedication.
To Omar Khan, my thanks for timely information regarding the dating of certain photographs by Burke, Bremner and Bourne.
Let me also express gratitude to Mian Attique Ahmad who curated with me a memorable exhibition of Old Lahore at the Lahore Museum in March this year, to Mr Tariq Mahmood for editorial and other assistance, to Mr Khurram of RN Scanner Process House, and to Mr Zulfiqar Ahmed and Mr Suleman Qaiser for the layout and design. To Mr Niaz Ahmad of Sang-e-Meel Publications, I am especially grateful for his insistence that I should attempt another book on Lahore, his encouragement when I toyed with the idea, and then his patience while I took my own time to assemble this book.
To my wife Shahnaz, my love as always, and for my son Komail, a promise that the next book will definitely not be on Lahore.
F. S. AIJAZUDDIN
Title: Lahore Recollected : An Album
Author: F. S. Aijazuddin
Number of Pages: 236