Hatim Tilawon The Phonographic Machine of Sind Valley, Kashmir || LIVE IMAGE

As he grew so grew his reputation of a master storyteller. With it Hatim;s name was suffixed with Tailwon

It is often said that memories cannot be photographed. Quite true, it may be, but not so with Hatim Tilawon a Kashmiri folk tales teller from Sindh valley in Kashmir. Though wholly illiterate, he was able to recite them at desired rate of speed that suited the ear and pen. He would articulate each word separately from the context and whenever necessary without any change in pronunciation. 

His order of words and phrases never varied even however a long an interval he was called upon to recite certain passages again. According to Aurel Stein “the indication of two or three initial words repeated from the written record would be quite sufficient to set the disk moving in this living phonographic machine” Hatim was a reciter and poet from a remote habitation of Kashmir whose repertoire of stories and songs was said to be large. 

He possessed a remarkable photogenic memory. His recollection of stories and Songs remained as fresh as ever. Year after year stretching over decades reciting extempore as done decades back with remarkable memory and clear enunciation. It was with the publication of Hatim’s Tales published in London in 1917 that the world knew of this extraordinary genius, a raw villager from Kashmir. The tales were narrated by him to Sir Aurel Stein and Pandit Govind Kaul who took notes and copied down in Kashmiri both in Roman and and Devanagari scripts in 1896.

After sixteen years , the text he recited in 1912 was same as that which had been copied down while working on preparation of the critical edition of Kalhan’s Chronicle of Kashmir , the Rajatarangini and its commentated translation. Stein got interested in the language and folk lore of Kashmir. It led him further his interest in rich store of popular lore which Kashmiri presents in its folk tales, songs, proverbs and the like.

S.N.Pandita, a Stein Pilgrim, as he is called, has appropriately summed the efforts to bring Tales from Kashmir as narrated by Hatim states:. “In the Story of International and inter-religious relationship there is no other striking instance of collaboration than Kashmiri folk stories of, Hatim”s Tales . A Hungarian, an Irish and Englishman and two Kashmiris, a Jew, two Christians, a Muslim and a Hindu. 

These were Aurel Stein, George Grieson, Govind Kaul ,Hatim Talawon and William Crook.It all speaks” Hatim hailed from a little hamlet in Panzin habitation situated on the right side of the stream flowing down from Haramukh Glacier in Sindh River just above the confluence. He was a bland illiterate without any formal education who, however, kept listeners mesmerised with his story narrations. 

A petty share cultivator belonged to Pahal community. Had no land of his own until Stein secured a piece of land for him from the government for his genius qualities? His other pursuit used to collect livestock from the villagers domiciled around who entrusted then to tender during summer in the meadows on remunerations as a tradition apart from being cultivation.

Tilawon was his nick name for running a traditional local small oil Press. Hatim lived in his mortal fame from mid-19th century to near half of the 20th Century. He hardly ever crossed, as per record, the domain of his surroundings or of his habitations. Hatim as was called in young days would make best use of the day at the meadow, apart from keeping watch over livestock under his possession from a higher vantage ground. While they graze, to ensure not to go astray or fall prey to thieves. 

 In the meadow, the endless pasture span there used to nothing to attract or distract attention. Even drifting clouds up sky at times in open sky used to be a routine affair not to call for a special attraction. To break monotony of eventless time he would kill two birds with one stone .Beside constant watch on the livestock he would gather other likeminded associates to keep company.

 In return, Hatim spell bound the group with unending story narration one after the other till the time he recollected the livestock at twilight to safer shelter. As he grew so grew his reputation of a master storyteller. With it Hatim;s name was suffixed with Tailwon.

                                      His sharp crystal clear memory spell bound the cleverest of the clever which rode him through the annals of fame world over? 

While Sir Aruel Stein started learning Kashmiri in 1896 from Pandit Kashiram with intent to acquire some familiarity with the colloquial Kashmiri language. Although the tales immortalised Hatim world over, credit goes by Sir Aurel Stein in recording them along with pandit Govind Kaul. According to Grierson “They were a first-hand record of a collection of Folklore taken straight from the mouth of one to whom they had been handed down with verbal accuracy from generation to generation of professional reciters and in addition they formed an invaluable example of little known language recorded in two ways. 

One, as it sounded to an experienced scholar and, two, as it was written down in a literary style of spelling. Moreover Hatim’s language was not literary language of Kashmiri Pandits but was in village dialect”.

 Bushan Parimoo
(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website .)
(Feedback at: blparimoo@gmail.com)

PART - 1 360° OF Article 370 || #LIVE_IMAGE

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