Ladies Of Caubul
Artist: Walker, E (fl. mid-19th century), after Rattray,
Medium: Lithograph, coloured
This lithograph is taken from plate 24 of 'Afghaunistan' by Lieutenant James Rattray.
A political mission composed of Doctor Lord and Captain Rattray (James' brother) was established at Bamiyan. This was the frontier city of Afghanistan and the first spot which could be attained by the Russians. It was also the only road by which the exiled Dost Mohammed could revisit his kingdom. The region was famed for its Buddhist statues.
Shakar Lab ('Sugar Lips') was the favourite wife of a former governor of Bamiyan and niece by marriage to Dost Mohammed. As a great favour, Rattray was introduced to her at Kabul. Describing her as a Qizilbash belle of the first water, Rattray wrote: "Afghaun ladies exercise more control over their husbands than is usual in Eastern countries."
Though women of the higher classes were strictly under purdah as in Hindustan, Rattray wrote that they certainly enjoyed life more than the Hindustanis. Women were seen making constant pleasure excursions into tombs, gardens and bazaars, and they threw off their veils and restraint in secluded spots. He had sometimes come upon them thus and found them strikingly handsome.