Historian and author
Dr. Jean-Marie Lafont has a Ph.D. in Greek Archaeology and a Doctorat d’Etat in Modern History. He has taught at the University of Libya (Benghazi), Punjab University (Lahore), Université de Lyon 3 and University of Delhi. His publications include La présence française dans le royaume sikh du Penjab 1822-1849 (1992, for which he received the Giles Award of the Institut de France in 1995), Indika. Essays in Indo-French Relations 1630-1976 (2000), and Maharaja Ranjit: Singh Lord of the Five Rivers (2002) among others.
Abstract: A Franco-Punjabi Artistic Program under Maharaja Ranjit Singh
In 1836 General Allard returned from Paris to Lahore as chargé d’affaires of France to the Punjab Government. In his luggage, he had a copy in two volumes of a recent (1827) uncut and unbound edition of Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables. Published from 1668 to 1694, these 240 short stories in verse were inspired by the great fabulists of antiquity, like Aesopus. The Fables, like the Pançatantra, also had a political and educational purpose. They illustrate every aspect of life in the Lahore kingdom, in cities and villages, in fields and forests, and in hills and plains.