Came across this. Actually long, long ago but decided quite suddenly to let you know. Stunning and sublime really, Christa Kieffer's oil on canvas captures a world of rich, glittering colours and a golden glow of the quaint streetlights in the pinkish hue the retreating sun leaves behind. She does it deliberately too, 'To me, the transition of light is espeically appealing.' Christa Kieffer does it with a rare finesse. Even to my untrained eye, her work assaults with such a stark longing, that I immediately want to click my golden shoes together and find myself back in 'The Beautiful Era'.
The beautiful era - La Belle Époque. An era before the world was ravaged by the great wars and went on to achieve the distant dream of Socialism to kill all traces of privilege by birth. The more profound reflections apart, I think what suffered the most was the style of dressing.

Edwardian wide-brimmed hats and Victorian waist-squeezing corsets, donned with Etonian jackets to complement that hour glass figure - a thing of the past. Kieffer's work although captures the earlier dressing styles of this era. The mega sleeves, the rich gowns - a true indicator of your social standing and pedigree. And now pedigree determines only the price of the next dog I wish to own. And righ gowns are donned by anyone and everyone on their wedding day. Socialism retaliates with free and fair personal identity.

Not much of a post, but some of vicarious nostalgia.


There are times when you encounter art, artisans, arti-ness and a subjugating feeling of acute dwarfness overpowers you?
Like when you are sitting a bloating, gloating Indian for all purposes on paper, and along comes a William Dalrymple, a Scottish enamoured by the great city of Delhi (he compares the history, the culture and the aura with that of Constantinople and Cairo) and more so, by the little remembered (No, the Taj Mahal doesn't count as Mughal-only memory) House of Timur and it's descendants.

The Last Mughal who Suraj thought was Aurangzeb, who you might not remember either, who my grandmum remembered as 'The Great Bahadur Shah'. Bahadur Shah Zafar - The Last Mughal. Great? As the ripe and feeble octagenerian, greatness of strategy and strenght of conviction and mind was the last thing that could be attributed to the old and fragile man. He remains buried with a less-than-monumental architectural excuse remembering his death and inhaling his forgotten, decaying life in Burma.

Of the greatness of the 1857 Mutiny that many remember as the first armed assault against the East India Company for freedom from colonisation and an implicit incarceration. But which for all its misconstrued greatness remained a religious revolt. An initial pre-dominant Hindu army making its way to the great city of Delhi, seeking the hollow blessings of a puppet Mohameddan king (Bahadur Shah Zafar), and rising in revolt to protest against the cartridges rubbed with cow and pig fat. The revolution that killed every British man, woman and child in sight, that resisted the British army for 4 months, that starved and strived and put up a worthy fight, that plundered the city of its riches and its dignity, that disrespected the very idea of a great Mughal king. The revolution that started swaying dangerously towards becoming an out-and-out Jihadi revolution.

But the one thing that was great about the Last Mughal was his ability to recognise and regard the Hindu-Muslim unity, and to persevere to retain that very unity to stand up against the kafirs - the British. An eighty year old man lost in the chaos about him, increasingly aware of the dying line of Timur, seeking solace in his poetry, his beautiful verse, struggling but only so feebly to restore the dynasty that ruled Hindoostan for more than three centuries.

But he failed. He could not stem the depradation, the plundering, the carnage about him. Great then? Broken and weak when the British finally conquered the city and reversed the tables. The depradation, plundering and carnage continued. But under a different army, a different colour. No, there was nothing great about the Last Mughal, the 1857 Mutiny or its rapacious and rambunctious armies.

The only greatness is displayed by Dalrymple himself. For falling in love with the city of Delhi, the story of the Mughals and their white counterparts. For investing time and effort, blood and sweat to go through dying accounts of the 1857 Mutiny and to reconstruct the horrors, the helplessness and the history. For being not an Indian and feeling like one, for being but a Scottish and proud as one, for being a true Sufi artist and only loving. Greatness? That is William Dalrymple.