the story - equestrian
november 20, 2010
01.this sunny sunday I was accompanying my daughter to the store "somewhere behind the toronto airport" in her quest to purchase the dress for the wedding of her pakistani friend. it was relatively easy to find this newly developed great punjabi business centre, where the store was, even thou we have never been in the area. whole area – malton, looked quite different than the rest of the city, there was that "new development smell"[similar to "new car smell"], but with south asian flavor, impact of ethnicity and multiculturalism on planning process.
02.while una was in the shop I had time to drift [psychogeography!] around and explore this area with distinct "out of canada feeling". parking was somehow resembling the atmosphere of the inner courts of islamic temples I had luck to experience log time ago in india and pakistan. to my big surprise I stumbled upon equestrian statue by one of the entrances to the centre. psychograph #01
03. who is this person, must be someone very important for punjabi – sikh community but who?
04.equestrian statues during the history starting with greek and roman times were very popular, used usually on very important public squares, with the intention to immortalize the rulers – kings, emperors or other important figures in the society.
05.the equestrian statue of marcus aurelius [left] is the only surviving bronze equestrian statue from roman times and I was lucky to see it in rome on one of the best squares anywhere. the original statue, erected in 176 AD, survived only because it was used in 1538 by michelangelo on the redeveloped piazza del campidoglio and because romans mixed marcus aurelius, prosecutor of christians [on the horse] with protectionist of christians constantine the great.
06.this statue was thru the history, specially in renaissance, used as a prototype. lot of nice examples were created all over the europe during the 15th and 16th century. almost all of the important individuals of the past, north and south europe, balkans, asia, north america, had their equestrian figures, up until early 20th century when this way of portraying declined sharply. my youth was also revolving around one equestrian statue konj [horse], monument to knez mihajlo erected in 1882, very popular meeting space in downtown beograd where I lived until 1993.
07.it is even more surprising to see this type of monument in toronto. only other known equestrian statue in toronto is of king edward VII in queens park, hidden in the middle of the park, surrounded by heavy traffic, very pedestrian unfriendly. [see point 13a bellow]
08.in india it is not very uncommon to find equestrian statues in 18th or 19th century, probably under british influence, but only known [to me] statue of previous time is one from sri ranganathaswamy temple complex in srirangam.
09.this statue in the great punjabi business centre, as I find out after little of investigation [with the help of several people from the sikh community] is of sikh maharaja ranjit singh (1780-1839) the lion of punjab. he was a prominent sikh emperor – maharaja, unifying vast territory in punjab, both in today's pakistan and india, tolerant to both prevailing religions in the region, muslim and hindu and favoring thru sikhism – best characterized as a faith of unlimited optimism, universal equality, tolerance and coexistence, quite revolutionary in those times [and even today].
10.monument itself is copy of the equestrian monument standing in ram bagh – garden of the summer palace built by the maharaja ranjit singh in amritsar, india. but it is not identical, horse tail is moved away from the body and there are some other subtle differences, interesting! the only little problem I have is why the inscription on the monument itself is only on punjabi? in my humble opinion it will be much better for all of us to have at least basic information available to wider community.
12.if ranjit singh, eternalized here, was chosen to represent ethical and cultural connections between great civilizations, bridge social differences and make us all understand and value each other, that will be a great contribution to well–being of all of us!
13.I am an ultimate optimist.
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13a.16 months later, april 2012, I finaly went to visit king edward's monument. exactly what I was expecting. there was still one surprise. originaly this monument was "placed in position" in 1911 by king george in the ocassion of his coronation in new delhi, INDIA. isn't that a coinsidence or this just fits into our theory of interconections everywhere around us.