New Delhi | Visitors to the ongoing New Delhi World Book Fair are thronging the Chinese pavilion to get a glimpse of not only the neighbouring country’s literature but also its traditional art and cultural practices.
The 24th edition of the fair that began at the Pragati Maidan here on January 9, is hosting China as the guest of honour, six years after India participated at the Beijing International Book Fair. Unlike previous years, where the guest of honour countries have limited their participation at the fair specifically to books, this time China has gone beyond the literary engagement and is offering visitors a first-hand experience of itself.
Traditional Chinese woodblock printing, varieties of Chinese tea and a publishing and printing exhibition on the development of Chinese language seem to be attracting people. Both the kiosks for woodblock printing and Chinese tea are interactive in a way where visitors can partake in the process themselves.
One can see a dozen people at any point of time in the China pavilion applying ink on engraved sandal woodblocks, putting leaves of xuan paper over it and applying ink over it again to get an impression of the Sakyamuni Buddha preaching. Xuan Paper or the ivory colored foolscap paper used in woodblock printing is made through 2000 year old traditional craft.
Paper of ancient China enjoys the fame of ‘life of a thousand years.’ Its texture is pliable and tough and makes romantic and magnificent indoor decoration after mounting and ramming, says Li Ying, a researcher from the China Printing Museum. Ying has been demonstrating printing techniques at the interaction-based installation.
According to Ying, it is the popularity of Buddhism among Indians that is drawing such a huge crowd to the stall. The illustration of the Shakyamuni Buddha expounding to his disciples is a part of the Diamond Sutra which is a Mahayana Sutra from a classic that was in fact written in ancient India in 494BC. The illustration is a perfect representation of the great printing techniques of the Tang Dynasty, says Ying.
The Chinese tea stall is more vibrant with the presenters dressed in traditional attire showcasing the different types of tea consumed in China and demonstrating their respective preparations. This store is about the Chinese tea culture exhibition. We want to tell the whole world about the Chinese tea art.
The tradition lies in the manner of preparation and we have tea pots which are from a very long time ago, from ancient China, says Wang Xufeng from Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in China.
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