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The Extinguished Flame

Abdur Rehman Chughtai1920s

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum

Abdur Rehman Chughtai is a representative Pakistani painter who worked in Lahore around the time the city was still in the territory of British India. He established his original style by fusing different ways of expression including the tradition of Bengali School led by Abanindranath Tagore, Indian miniature painting, modern Japanese painting and Art Nouveau. Using fluid colours and elegant lines which are the characteristics of the "wash technique" of Bengali School, he made a range of delicate poetic paintings of Hindu and Buddhist myths, historical figures in Islam, and Urdu and Persian poetry. This particular painting shows a scene from a poem by Mirza Ghalib, a 19th century Urdu poet, about a woman who keeps waiting for her lover even after the light from the candle has extinguished. Golden moths are falling over the woman who is reclined beneath the candle stand. The motif of burnt moths which went too close to fire often appears in Persian literature and paintings to symbolize the fragility of passionate love.

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