"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,"
-- Rabindranath Tagore on a visit to China
Tagore made three visits to China during April-May, 1924; March and June 1929. The country obviously cast a spell on the Nobel laureate because in his many talks there he waxed eloquent about his admiration for "its world of beauty", "wisdom" and "touch of the human".
The truism that culture successfully cuts across all boundaries is clearly not off the mark because the Shanghai Municipal Archives Bureau has brought a truly amazing collection of 123 photographs and 35 displays boards to India. To cap it all, these images have never displayed before in an individual exhibition.
The Bureau was supported by the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in setting up the exhibition. The exhibition was held from July 22 to July 27 at the Azad Bhavan Art Gallery.
"Though his second and third visits to Shanghai were very brief, he (Tagore) nevertheless started a 'Tagore Fever' in Shanghai and in China that we could listen to the voice and bathe in the wisdom of a sage of the Orient," said Gong Fang, Head of the Delegation of Shanghai Municipal Archives, at the inauguration of the exhibition, going on to assert that Tagore "not only built up deep friendship with renowned Chinese literary figures, but also exerted significant influence on many Chinese writers."
Suresh K Goel, director general of ICCR was equally liberal in his praise of the poet. As he said, "The Nobel laureate is remembered in China as a great poet and philosopher who made historic contribution to cultural dialogue between China and India."
Chinese literary circles were completely swayed by Tagore's visit to their country. Many publications like The Orient Magazine, Novel Monthly and Buddhist New Youth had special issues on Tagore. The Chinese media also dedicated a large body of reports and coverage of the event. In fact so great was Tagore's appeal in China that over a passage of time most of his works have been translated and published in Chinese.