Monday, February 06, 2012
Artist: Pablo Picasso, 1937 courtesy: Wikipedia
I am always moved by Picasso's 'Guernica', above, for its depiction of a war-horse falling in agony as it has just been run through by a spear or javelin.
It was reported on January 25 2012 that Steven Spielberg’s 'War Horse' will compete for six Academy Awards: Best picture, cinematography, original score, art direction, sound editing and sound mixing.
According to Wikipedia the synopsis of the Michael Morpurgo’s novel of 1982 on which it is based:
"At the outbreak of World War I, Joey, young Albert's beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. His rider Captain Nicholls is killed while riding Joey. The horse is soon caught up in the war; death, disease and fate take him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in No man's land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist in the British Army, he embarks on a dangerous mission to find the horse and bring him home to Devon."
Accrding to Gervase Phillips, writing for 'History Today':
"...the story unfolds from the perspective of the horse, a device that allows the author to explore the world of those voiceless but sentient creatures and invites us to reflect upon both the misery they have suffered at our hands and the compelling call of compassion that can transcend the boundaries of ‘human’ and ‘animal’... "
'Pack horses carrying ammunition in Flanders'
courtesy: 'The Horse and the War' by Captain Lionel Edwards, 1918
To celebrate the awards nomination news, I am reissuing my earlier post on Maharashtra's favourite pony and war-horse- Bhimthadi Tatta (भीमथडी तट्टं).
Maharashtra's military triumph from CE 1600 to CE 1818 owes a lot to this largely unsung animal.
The Marathi stories like that of Albert and Joey above may not have been documented or even told but it doesn't mean they never happened!
Sir F. W. Fitzwygram:
"It is impossible for a man of average sensibility to observe closely and to note the painful expression and the intelligence of these creatures … to witness their sufferings [and] the brutal treatment which they too often meet from ignorant and cruel men; it is impossible for him to see these things without sorrow, without endeavouring to alleviate their agony …"
('Horses and Stables', 1901)
Many Marathi speaking people feel proud about the military success of Marathas across the subcontinent in 18th century.
Many legends, heroes and myths are borne out of that pride.
A good part of that success was surely due to their mount- a pony aka Bhimthadi-Tatta.
"Maharashtra has Krishna, Nira, Ghodnadi, Bhima, Pravara, Godavari as main rivers. Out of these, more than Krishna, since the water from Bhima, Pravara, Nira, Ghodnadi, Godavari suited the horses better, horses brought up on their water were strong, smart, loyal..."
['Peshwekalin Maharashtra' (पेशवेकालीन महाराष्ट्र) by Vasudev Krushna Bhave (वासुदेव कृष्ण भावे), 1936]
("महाराष्ट्रात कृष्णा, निरा, घोडनदी, भिमा, प्रवरा, गोदावरी या प्रमुख नद्या होत. यांपैकी कृष्णानदीपेक्षांही भिमा, प्रवरा, निरा, घोडनदी, गोदावरी या नद्यांचे पाणी घोड्यांना चांगले मानवणारे असल्यामुळे त्या पाण्यावर पोसलेली घोडी बळकट, चलाख, इमानी व पाणीदार असत.")
I have read a few books describing that period but have never come across the praise for their horses as much as following.
Reviewing "Russia Against Napoleon" by Dominic Lieven that analyses one of the greatest military triumph in history, JENNIFER SIEGEL says:
"...Russia's triumph is also a story of logistics, supplies and, above all, the horse.
The country's leaders mobilized what Mr. Lieven calls "the sinews of Russian power": its vast population (although much smaller than the combined numbers at Napoleon's disposal); its outstanding and plentiful horse stock; its arms manufacturing; and even the sometimes unstable Russian economy.
Of these, it is the horse, and Russia's ability to mobilize its light cavalry to harass Napoleon's rearguard as it retreated across the great European plain, that receives the greatest attention in "Russia Against Napoleon." Coming in a close second to the horse in significance were the victuallers who managed to feed and supply more than a half-million troops during the two-year campaign..."
(WSJ, APRIL 14, 2010)
Is he a bargir बारगीर (cavalryman riding a horse belonging to his leader) or a silahdar शिलेदार (a Persian term meaning a cavalryman who enlisted with his own horse and equipment)?