FABRI, Charles Louis

FABRI, Charles Louis (Károly Lajos Fábri). Budapest 18.11.1899 — Delhi 7.7.1968. Hungarian Archaeologist and Art Historian in India. Born in a wealthy middle class Jewish family, grew up in Budapest. His father owned a hotel, but lost the fortune during the WW I. After war service, six years of studies of philosophy, psychology and Germanic philology at Pécs University. He was already then interested in the East (member of D.M.G.). M.A. 1924, Ph.D. 1927 Pécs, in philosophy (diss. in William Jones). The family moved to Fiume, Italy (now Rijeka in Croatia, but before the WW I part of Hungary) and from there CLF proceeded to Netherlands in 1927 and studied at Kern Institute in Leiden under Vogel. Also studies under Lévi in Paris. He became Assistant of Vogel and worked on the ABIA until 1933. In 1931 he was in India in order to work as an assistant of M. A. Stein (with him in the Punjab and Baluchistan). In 1934 moved permanently to India, first taught at Santiniketan. He was then special officer of A.S.I., in 1936-37 in Lahore Museum. Leaving A.S.I. in 1938/39 he became Field Director of Punjab Exploration Fund and conducted excavations on several sites. Travelled much in India. As British citizen from 1937 (or 1939) he served in the WW II. After the war in 1945 he became Curator of Lahore Museum, but in December 1947 had to move to Delhi. Now National Museum Lecturer in New Delhi in 1947-48. He also started writing art critique for The Statesman and this soon became his main occupation. In 1950-55 (or 1959) he was also Lecturer at Architecture and Art Departments of Delhi Polytechnic. He travelled around India and visited Europe twice, in 1959 and 1963. Last years lived in Delhi as free author and art critic. Died in cancer. Married 1947 with an Indian lady, Rana Mathur, a paintress, one son. Apparently several major works on Indian art history remained manuscript.

Publications: A number of (mainly short) articles and reviews on Indian archaeology and art history, e.g.: “Un élément mésopotamien dans l’art de l’Inde”, JA 217, 1930, 298-302; “A Graeco-Buddhist sculpture representing the Buddha’s descent from the heaven of the thirty-three gods”, AO 8, 1930, 288-293; “Latest attempts to read the Indus Script”, IC 1, 1934, 51-56; “The Punch-Marked Coins: A Survival of the Indus Civilisation”, JRAS 1935, 307-318; “A Sumero-Babylonian Inscription discovered at Mohenjo-Daro”, IC 3, 1937, 663-673; also articles in ABIA.

– “Mesopotamian and early Indian Art: Comparisons”, Études … R. Linossier P. 1932, 203-253.

– “The Punch-Marked Coins: A Survival of the Indus Civilisation”, JRAS 1935.

Edited: Arch. Survey of India, Annual Report 1930-31, 1931-32, 1932-33, and 1933-34. Calcutta 1936, with own contributions.

– “The Bull of Asoka”, Indo-Asian Cult. 1:2, 1952, 148-152; “Mathura of the gods”, Mārg 7:2, 1954, 8-22; “Akhnur terra-cottas”, Mārg 8:2, 1955, 53-64; “Frescoes of Ajanta: an essay”, Mārg 9:1, 1955, 61-76; “The sculpture of the Sun Temple: a study in styles”, Mārg 12:1 (Homage to Konarak number), 1958, 33-43; “Dance in India”, Indo-Asian Cult. 10:1, 1961, 70-80.

Indian Dress: A Brief History. 92 p. Calcutta 1960.

An introduction to Indian architecture. 68 p. 34 pl. London 1963.

Discovering Indian sculpture: a brief history. 84 p. 52 pl. N.D. & Bombay 1970.

History of the Art of Orissa. 24+220 p. 180 pl. Calcutta 1974.

Indian flamingo: a novel of modern India. London 1947.

Sources: Magyar Életrajzi Lexikon 1978-1991; *G. Bethlenfalvy, Charles Louis Fabri. His Life and Works. 175 p. New Delhi 1980 with bibliography and photo; Bethlenfalvy 1980, 36f. with photo; Anna A. Ślaczka, “Temples, Inscriptions and Misconceptions. Charles-Louis Fábri and the Khajuraho Apsaras”, The Rijks Museum Bulletin 20??. 213-233, also in www.academia.edu, with photo; full bibliography in Dutch Indology homepage.

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