Lieutenant Charles W. Thompson
(1824 - 1895)
- Opaque Watercolour on Paper
Maharashtra, possibly Bombay or Surat
Initialed ‘CWT’ lower left. Dated ‘Tuesday 1st September 1857’ lower right
Lieutenant Charles W. Thompson was born in 1824 & was the youngest son of Rear Admiral John Rawlins Thompson. He belonged to the 9th Bombay Infantry & served in the Southern Mahratta Campaign 1844 - 1845 & the Persian Campaign 1856 - 1857. He was wounded at Seevapore; served during the Indian Mutiny 1857, & during the capture of Kolapoor. He rose to the rank of General Charles Thompson Indian Staff Corps late Commandant HM IXth Regt & died in 1895 in Bedford.
This painting is a depiction of a Mohurrum procession. Mohurrum marks the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad who was killed in the battle of Karbala in 680 AD. Devout Shia Muslims all over the world observe a ten day period of mourning during Mohurram. On the tenth day, there is a grand in a grand procession where Tazias or floats are gorgeously decorated & are carried by the faithful in the procession which is often led by caparisoned elephants.
This watercolour describes in refined detail the procession of the Tazias which can be seen in the background of the scene.
The figures in the foreground of the paintings are titled underneath in pencil & read from left to right: Chuprassy, Musulman Woman, Sepoy of Police, Seidy Arab, Arab, Mounted European Police, Parsee, Musilm Borah, Taboot of Mourners, Men holding Tails, Tigers, Purdesoor Poorbhuyas, Clashe, Sowar of Police et cetera.
What is of particular interest in this painting is the depiction of people dressed as tigers which was specific to these processions in India.
This painting is of extreme importance as it was painted during the first Indian War of Independence of 1857 sometimes referred to as The Indian Mutiny!
The Mohurrum festival was an inclusive festival which shows the intermingling of faiths; this aspect of the festival is clearly indicated in this painting.