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Revisiting Gurudev's historic tryst with China

international stature: The exhibition of 125 photographs highlighting Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's visits to China has contributions from the Shanghai Municipal Archives Bureau.

international stature: The exhibition of 125 photographs highlighting Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's visits to China has contributions from the Shanghai Municipal Archives Bureau.  

Six-day exhibition hosted by ICCR acknowledges that the legendary poet's popularity stretches far beyond the Indian borders

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations is hosting a six-day exhibition documenting Rabindranath Tagore's three historic visits to China at its Azad Bhavan premises here.

The exhibition acknowledges the fact that Tagore's literary writings and poetry continue to be popular among Chinese bibliophiles to this day. In fact, the legendary Bengali poet is one of the literary figures most revered by Chinese readers.

Gurudev made three important visits to China. The first of them was during April-May 1924, the second in March 1929 and the third in June 1929.

‘Tagore fever'

These visits by the literary giant from an Asian country created a “Tagore fever” in modern China and injected eastern wisdom into a country which was undergoing social transformation in the face of Western thoughts.

“The basic idea behind the exhibition is to showcase Tagore's international stature. He was not restricted to just India. The exhibition is a visual testament of Tagore's visits to China. It has seen the light of day because the Shanghai Municipal Archives Bureau made a proposal before us and we concurred. In fact, the Bureau has come out with pictures, quotations and newspaper coverage from its archives that have been preserved for more than 80 years.

The newspaper cuttings are of course all in Chinese language so we will have accompanying translations,” says ICCR Director General Suresh K. Goel.

The exhibition, highlighting 125 pictures of Tagore's visits to China, will be inaugurated by ICCR president Karan Singh on Friday. It will remain open up to July 27.

Situated at the estuary of Yangtze river, Shanghai stands as one of China's major hubs and the country's gateway. Back in 1920s many celebrities in the literary circles from all across the world visited Shanghai including Tagore.

Apart from Shanghai, Tagore also visited Hangzhou, Nanjing, Jinan, Beijing, Taiyuan, Hankou and was enchanted by the local sceneries and folk traditions.

During his visit, Tagore made extensive contact with many influential figures of Chinese literary circles and delivered a number of speeches, exerting a far-reaching influence on China's literary horizon.

Tagore's visit to China was a sensational event for China's literary circles. “Orient Magazine”, “Novel Monthly” and “Buddhist New Youth” had special issues dedicated to Tagore. Other influential newspapers and magazines also dedicated numerous reports and coverage to the event. Most of Tagore's works were sooner or later published in Chinese language.

The exhibition begins with a quote of Tagore: “I found myself a Chinese name and in Chinese clothes. This I know down the depth of my heart; I am reborn where I befriend. Friends bring the miracle of life. Unknown flowers are in full blossom on an exotic land.”

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