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Afghanistan as seen through British eyes

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Depictions by Lieutenant James Rattray (1818-1854)

James Rattray (1818 – 24 October 1854) was a soldier and artist, born in Daventry, Northamptonshire, England,[1] who died at Dorundah, in the Ranchi Division,[2] Nagpore, India.[3] At the time of making his notable sketches he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Grenadiers, Bengal Army, serving in Afghanistan.[4]

In Great Britain. His parents were Charles Rattray M.D. (1779–1835), a physician of Northamptonshire, and Mariane Freeman (1788–1866).[5]

He had a good command of Persian and could speak directly with the local people.[6]

Rattray began his career as a soldier. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 5 Dec 1838, the date he sailed out of Gravesend on the Severn, a West Indiaman bound for India.[7] This ship was abandoned at sea (mid Atlantic) later that same year on 29 December 1838, with 16 ft. of water in her hold on a voyage from Miramichi in Canada for Bristol.[8]

He followed and served alongside Charles Rattray (1810–1841)[9], his older brother by 8 years, who was a Captain in the same period in Afghanistan.[10]

He spent some time in the Hindustan.[11] Rattray was part of a combined force known as the Army of the Indus. He was a Lieutenant in the 2nd Grenadiers, Bengal Army.[12] He took part in the First Anglo-Afghan War, from 1839 to 1842.

He was in Ghazni in 1839–40. The picture, right, depicts the final resting place of Mahmud of Ghazni. The artist in Rattray was in love with this particular spot (Tomb of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni ) and viewed it as one of the most charming places in Afghanistan.

His brother, Lieutenant Charles Rattray, 20th N.I. (Native Infantry) acting as Major Eldred Pottinger’s assistant, was assassinated on 3 November 1841 on duty at Lughmani, near Charikar, in the Kabul valley.[13][14][15]

James was in Khandahar in December 1841[16]

He helped man the rearguard during the army’s 1842 retreat from Kabul from Kabul to Peshawar. They entered the Khyber Pass from Jamrud. Their mission to take the fortress of Ali Masjid, popularly known as the Key of the Pass, which dominated the road and was garrisoned by Dost Mohammed’s troops. Rattray had scarcely completed sketching, “when suddenly a report was heard, and, to my utter astonishment, walls and bastions composing the fortress blew up simultaneously in the air, like a whirlwind of sand; and so completely was it swept off from the summit of the mountain, that when the dense cloud cleared away not a vestige of the building remained.”

Rattray undertook several tours of the region, after leaving the Army.[17]

Another brother Captain Thomas Rattray (1820–1880) raised the 1st Bengal Military Police Battalion in April 1856, at Lahore, later re-named the 45th Rattray’s Sikhs.

He died on 24 October 1854, at age 36, at Dorundah, Nagpore, India.[18] On his death he was a Captain in the Indian Army. He died a bachelor, leaving no heirs. The executor of his estate was his brother Major David Rattray (1814–1874) of the Devonshire Militia, residing in Tiverton, Devon.

He is the author of Scenery, Inhabitants & Costumes, of Afghaunistaun from drawings made on the spot by James Rattray. Artist: James Rattray 1818–1854, Lithographer: Robert Carrick, Published by Day & Son in 1847. A second edition was published the next year in London: by Hering & Remington, 137 Regent street, 1848.

The artist dedicated this collection to the Kandahar Force that he belonged under the command of Major-General Sir William Nott,G.C.B., and the British and Indian Army officers who participated in the war.

His sketches and drawings were made into Lithographs mainly by the lithographer and engraver Robert C. Carrick.[20] Other lithographers were Edmund Walker Plate nos. 2, 19, 20, 22, 24, and 25; landscape artist and lithographer William L. Walton Plate nos. 13 and 18, and Plate no. 21 by Frederick William Hulme, all employed by the publisher.

W. L. Walton was a landscape artist, working in London, who exhibited between 1834 and 1855. He also made the lithographic plates for General Sale’s Defence of Jalalabad (c. 1845).).[21]

Among the subscribers for the publication were Prince Albert, and several Rattray family members, including Capt. Charles Rattray, Pol. Agt., Turkestan; Capt. Rattray R.N.; Capt. D. Rattray, Prince Albert’s Light Infantry; Lieut. T. Rattray, BNI.

Each colour plate is accompanied by a lengthy explanatory texts (commentaries), delving into detailed vivid depictions of the people, their clothing, habits, occupations. Topics relating to historical and ethnohistorical interest are described, such as the forms of worship at tombs and mosques, and the imperial rituals of the Dorranis. Verbatim excerpts of some of these texts can be found on the British Library website.

His works are in the following collections:

This lithograph was taken from plate 27 of ‘Afghaunistan’ by Lietenant James Rattray.
The tomb of Ahmad Shah Abdali was near the Bala-Hissar (Fort) of Kandahar. The founder of the Durrani monarchy, Ahmad Shah was revered by Afghans as their greatest monarch, combining military skill with a decisive character and the virtue of clemency. One of his most famous feats was the conquest of Delhi and the defeat of the Maratha forces in India at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. With India his for the taking, he withdrew, deciding against ruling a remote region. His decision was influenced by the fact that the Sikhs, whose star was in the ascendant, lay between him and Afghanistan, and that insurrection was rife at home in his absence.
He died in 1773 and his tomb was a place of sanctity where all men received asylum, even if murderers and malefactors. No European was allowed in, but Rattray wrote of the charm of the “ensemble of the chaste, simple building, thrown out by the dark tints of the extraordinary Bullock’s Hump mountain, rising in jagged outline behind it”.
A Dooranee noble and his attendant at the palace, Candahar
RATTRAY (JAMES) Ghiljie Women, of the Lower Orders; Khoja Padshauh, a Ko-i-Staun Chief, with his Armed Retainers, 2 hand-coloured lithographs on one leaf by R. Carrick after Rattray, framed and glazed, sheet size 535 x 405mm., Hering & Remington, 1848; and 2 others, including a chromolithographed portrait of Lord Roberts (3
Men in the decorated palace of Shah Shujah Ool Moolk, Afghanistan. Coloured lithograph by R. Carrick after Lieutenant James Rattray, c. 1847.

دورنمای شهر قندهار (ظاهراً از محل اردوگاه انگلیسی)
رسامی جیمز اتکینسون
1842
خیابان اصلی در بازار در کابل در فصل میوه، آبرنگ توسط جیمز اتکینسون، 1842

James Atkinson ‘Snipers of the Bolan Pass’
Entrance to the Bolan Pass from Dadur by James Atkinson, 1842
This lithograph is taken from plate 26 of ‘Afghaunistan’ by Lieutenant James Rattray.
The sketch was taken from the Herat Gate, one of the six gates of Kandahar. In the background is the hill known as Bullock’s Hump. The military cantonments were about a mile from the city. Rattray wrote that this made their position isolated and vulnerable, especially since the land between the city and the camp was suitable for guerilla warfare, and they could at any point be cut off from the city.
They nearly met with disaster when General Nott moved almost the entire British force out of Kandahar to disperse the Afghan Army, leaving behind a skeleton staff of about 800 men to garrison the city. On the night of 10 March 1842, the Afghans attacked at Herat Gate and besieged the British for five hours. Rattray was among the defenders and they only survived after a sudden Afghan withdrawal. Despite the fact that Nott’s returning army would have been hard-pressed had the defenders’ arms failed, the little garrison was accused of inactivity and negligence for allowing the Afghans to besiege them. The whole affair was reported to the government “in meagre and unjust form”, to Rattray’s deep regret.
The Opening in to the Narrow Path above the Siri Bolan from Atkinson’s Sketches in Afghaunistan
This lithograph is taken from plate 23 of ‘Afghaunistan’ by Lieutenant James Rattray.
He sketched Kandahar in December 1841 from the rooftop of the former residence of the province’s governor, Sirdar Meer Dil Khaun, who was brother to the Emir. Pictured on the left is the tomb of Ahmed Shah and on the right the Bala Hissar (fort) and citadel. The houses in the foreground were dilapidated due to frequent earthquakes.
Afghans believed that ancient Kandahar had been built by Alexander the Great. Rattray’s drawing shows the fourth city on the site, built 95 years earlier by Ahmed Shah. Vast ruins of the earlier cities remained. Rattray wrote that Kandahar, a Durrani capital, was situated in a well-cultivated and fertile irrigated plain circled by mountains: “Every hill and building around rejoices in some singular title and each has its legend.” The city was oblong-shaped, and its ramparts spanned four miles, inset with six gates. Four main streets forming bazaars ran through it and met in the centre, a point marked with a domed building. Because streams ran through the city, there was plentiful water and foliage. Kandahar was divided into numberless walled divisions, in which each particular clan took up its abode. Among the peoples congregating here were Persians, Uzbegs, Bhaluchs, Hazaras, Jews, Armenians, Hindus, Ghilzais, Durranis and Arabs. The Durranis were the largest and most powerful of these groups, and generally regarded as the most polished and liberal-minded Afghans. The Popalzais, a branch of the Durranis, were superior still, and from them sprang the Saddozis, the sacred royal house of Afghanistan.
This lithograph is taken from plate 28 of ‘Afghaunistan’ by Lieutenant James Rattray.
The Naqqara Khana, from which this view was composed, was the room where the Royal Band played. It was part of the domed building known as Charsu (‘Fourways’), which stood in the centre of Kandahar and was the meeting place of the city’s four principal roads. At the Charsu were the best shops for arms, writing materials and books. Official proclamations were also made there and public hangings were carried out.
The mosque on the left held a relic said to be the Prophet Mohammed’s shirt. This was guarded with great care by the British since a Durrani chief had almost stolen it with a view to inciting a holy war against the ‘Feringhees’ (foreigners).
Afghan leaders in military costume with armour and weapons, Afghanistan. Coloured lithograph by R. Carrick after Lieutenant James Rattray, 1847.Frontispiece of his book published in 1847
Landscape with veiled women and camels, Kalat-i-Ghilzai, Afghanistan. Coloured lithograph by R. Carrick after Lieutenant James Rattray, c. 1847.

 

Mosque of Coolaum Hoossein Huzrut-Jee, Kandahar, Afghanistan. Coloured lithograph by R. Carrick after Lieutenant James Rattray, c. 1847.
Tomb of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni in 1839–40/Worshippers at the Mosque of Emperor Sultan Mahmood, Ghazni, Afghanistan. Coloured lithograph by R. Carrick after Lieutenant James Rattray, c. 1847.
Rattray, James, 1818-1854.
Date
1847-1848
The Costumes of the Various Tribes, Portraits of Ladies of Rank, Celebrated Princes and Chiefs, Views of the Principal Fortresses and Cities, and Interior of the Cities and Temples of Afghaunistan…
Cabul : retinue of Shah Shoojau Ool Moolk, Mahomed Shah Giljee, chief executioner, Ghufoor, a mutilator

RATTRAY, James (1818-1854). The Costumes of the Various Tribes, Portraits of the Ladies of Rank, Celebrated Princes and Chiefs, views of the principal Fortresses and Cities, and interior of the Cities and Temples in Afghaunistan . London: Hering & Remington, [1847-]1848. The first edition, with all plates hand-coloured and including an original watercolour. James Rattray was a second lieutenant in the 2nd Grenadiers, Bengal Army, serving in the First Afghan War. He held the Afghan landscape, costume, and architecture in high esteem and his collected views form the most extensive and the largest of the colour-plate books on Afghanistan listed in Abbey. Afghanistan was a region of heightened interest at the time: the First Afghan War (1839-1842) was the opening major conflict of the so-called ‘Great Game.’ Abbey Travel 513; Colas 2489; Lipperheide 1497. Folio (608 x 440mm). Additional hand-coloured lithographed title, printed subscriber’s leaf, dedication leaf, errata slip, 29 hand-coloured lithographed plates on 25 sheets, many heightened with gum arabic, by R. Carrick and others for Day & Son and after Rattray, advertisement leaf (toning and scattered spots, few edges discoloured, corners of additional title chipped and some others bumped). With an original watercolour drawing (365 x 273mm) of plate 25, ‘Gool Mohammaed Khaun King of the Ghilgies,’ laid in. Contemporary red half morocco gilt-ruled, upper cover with green morocco gilt title-label (faded, corners and spine ends worn, joints starting).
RATTRAY, James (1818-1854). The Costumes of the Various Tribes, Portraits of the Ladies of Rank, Celebrated Princes and Chiefs, views of the principal Fortresses and Cities, and interior of the Cities and Temples in Afghaunistan . London: Hering & Remington, [1847-]1848. The first edition, with all plates hand-coloured and including an original watercolour. James Rattray was a second lieutenant in the 2nd Grenadiers, Bengal Army, serving in the First Afghan War. He held the Afghan landscape, costume, and architecture in high esteem and his collected views form the most extensive and the largest of the colour-plate books on Afghanistan listed in Abbey. Afghanistan was a region of heightened interest at the time: the First Afghan War (1839-1842) was the opening major conflict of the so-called ‘Great Game.’ Abbey Travel 513; Colas 2489; Lipperheide 1497. Folio (608 x 440mm). Additional hand-coloured lithographed title, printed subscriber’s leaf, dedication leaf, errata slip, 29 hand-coloured lithographed plates on 25 sheets, many heightened with gum arabic, by R. Carrick and others for Day & Son and after Rattray, advertisement leaf (toning and scattered spots, few edges discoloured, corners of additional title chipped and some others bumped). With an original watercolour drawing (365 x 273mm) of plate 25, ‘Gool Mohammaed Khaun King of the Ghilgies,’ laid in. Contemporary red half morocco gilt-ruled, upper cover with green morocco gilt title-label (faded, corners and spine ends worn, joints starting).
 

Old Hindu man in contemplation, Peshawar, Pakistan. Coloured lithograph by R. Carrick after Lieutenant James Rattray, c. 1847.
Ladies cabul by James Rattray, 1848
Old Hindu man in contemplation, Peshawar, Pakistan. Coloured lithograph by R. Carrick after Lieutenant James Rattray, c. 1847.
Earthquake damage to fortifications, Jalal-Kut, Afghanistan. Coloured lithographs by W.L. Walton, c. 1850.
Earthquake damage to fortifications, Jalal-Kut, Afghanistan. Coloured lithographs by W.L. Walton, c. 1850.
Walled city with lone horseman, Afghanistan. Watercolour.
Hyder Khan of Ghazni in 1839-42 by James Rattray
The Khyber Pass with the fortress of Alimusjid, lithograph by James Rattray, 1848
Mir Alam a Coistaunee Warrior, as sketched by Rattray c.1840
Balar Hissar, Kabul,

 

References

  1. ^ “James Rattray”Ancestry. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  2. ^ “Unrelated article prove the location,look to Google search”Strausstown Roots. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  3. ^ “Probate record”. Ancestry. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ “James Rattray”. National Army Museum. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ “Parents”. Ancestry. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ “Rattray exhibition “Splendid Afghanistan 1848″: (Japan)”Japanese Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  7. ^ “Calcutta Monthly”Google Books. 1840. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  8. ^ Farr, Graham E. (1950). Records of Bristol Ships, 1800–1838 (vessels Over 150 Tons). Bristol Record Society. p. 39. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  9. ^ “Charles Rattray”Ancestry. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  10. ^ “Captain Rattray”British Library. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  11. ^ “Ladies of Kabul”History of Pashtuns. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  12. ^ “Dost Mahommed, King of Caubul, and his youngest son”British Library. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  13. ^ “Captain Rattray killed”British Museum. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  14. ^ “Siege of Charikar”fibis. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  15. ^ “Officers Killed – Afghanistan 1838–42”Tripod. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  16. ^ “Pashtun Culture and History”Pashtun Culture and History. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  17. ^ “Later journeys”Dreweatts Auctions. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  18. ^ “Probbate record”. Ancestry. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  19. ^ “Dost Mahommed King of Caubul and his Youngest Son”National Army Museum. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  20. ^ “Robert C. Carrick”British Library. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  21. ^ “W. L. Walton and General Sale’s Defence of Jalalbad (c. 1845)”Leicester Galleries. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
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