19 Couplets: India through the eyes of Bosnian envoy Muhamed Cengic

Story by  Nakul Shivani | Posted by  Nakul Shivani | Date 13-02-2023
'19 Couplets' showcased India through the Bosnian Ambassador's lens
'19 Couplets' showcased India through the Bosnian Ambassador's lens


Nakul Shivani/ New Delhi

Ambassador to India of Bosnia Herzegovina, Muhamed Cengic recently drew people to the Bikaner House in New Delhi for an exhibition of 38 photographs he has clicked during his four-year stint in India.

The one-day exhibition held on February 12, titled ‘19 Couplets’ showcased Cengic’s understanding of India as a diplomat and the human experiences he has encountered during his travels across the country.

Iftikhar Ahmed, who has done his Masters in Art History and Appreciation from Jamia Millia University helped Cengic curate the exhibition. Speaking to Awazthecvoice.in, the young student of History says, ”The career diplomat was enthused by the idea of showcasing his experiences in India. He approached me to help him exhibit his collection. Each photograph narrated a story. As a student of History and passionate about human experiences, I jumped at the offer and weaved his collection in the form of stories.”

Iftikhar Ahmed with Ambassador Muhamed Cengic

“19 is a number in numerology that symbolises spiritual growth and wisdom,” says Iftikhar explaining the title of the exhibition. 38 photographs were divided into 19 sets of two each, each collection narrated a story.

Cengic, a former journalist and an avid photographer travelled through Delhi, Kolkata, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Ahmedabad to take these pictures.


Each set of two photographs tells a story about people. The beautiful frames capture the values, customs, history and feeing of community that is India. “Happiness, sorrow, grief are elements of life that are common across civilizations, across societies. The couplets of the ambassador explain them in the Indian context through a lens,” says Iftikhar.

Among the captures, is a man in a Rajasthani village with a turban. Alongside you will see a photograph of a large stone with a smaller stone on top. The couplet it titled 'Turbans'


Equally attractive is a photograph of forest shot in Dharamshala alongside a photograph of a man resting under a tree shade. The couplet created from these photographs titled 'Solitude' describes peace and tranquility.


Earlier, speaking at the Bikaner House Dialogues, Cengic who plays dual role as a cultural as well as a diplomatic ambassador, explained the importance of diversity in bringing people in India closer. “The more diverse we are, the more closer we get,” he said.

The recently held exhibition was a continuation of Cengic’s efforts to bring the Indian and Bosnian people closer and understand each other’s cultures. In recent years, at the Jaipur Literature Festival, the ambassador had launched a translation of the best poetry from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, the four countries carved out of erstwhile Yugoslavia.

Ambassador Mahmud Cengic understands the importance of history and the lessons people must learn from it, as well as the importance of preserving cultures. He represents a country that was carved out after much bloodshed and struggle. Following the death of Josip Broz Tito in 1980, the undisputed leader of the Communist rule in Yugoslavia, the country was besieged with ethnic strife and call for independence and autonomy from the different regions.

In 1991, Slovenia and Croatia announced their independence, followed by Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. By 2006, Yugoslavia completely ceased to exist with Serbia and Montenegro declaring independence.

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38 photographs, human expressions, stories…’19 Couplets’ is Mahmud Cengic’s attempt to understand one of the most ancient civilizations in the world through the eyes of a man who comes from a country that was a product of a war, but boasts of a rich ethnic and religious mix.