Bangalore International Centre had arranged a talk on“Sino-Indian Cultural Diffusion through Trade in the Nineteenth Century” by Prof. MadhaviThampi onFriday, 18th November, 2016 at 6.30 PM. Amb. C V Ranganathan chaired and moderated the discussions.
Through a power point presentation, Prof. MadhaviThampi emphasized that trade has been a powerful medium for the exchange of cultural influences across different societies and regions throughout history. The flourishing trade between India and China in the nineteenth century, however, has not until recently received much attention as a vehicle for the exchange of cultural values between the two countries. While there exists a considerable amount of literature on the collections of China Trade art in the West, the truth is that ‘export art’ from China was valued not just in the West but was also imported by Parsi and other Indian merchants who flocked to China’s shores, for an appreciative clientele back home. Moreover, the Indian demand for Chinese art in this period did not merely ape Western tastes, but also reflected Indian tastes and values. Chinese artists and their famous workshops in the port of Canton (Guangzhou) became experts at producing art and cultural products catering to the tastes of Indian customers, just as they did for Western customers. As the popularity of these products from China grew in India, Indian artists and craftsmen themselves mastered the art forms and skills required, and further developed them in keeping with their particular genius. This was seen most clearly in the case of embroidery, textile weaving and reverse glass painting. Ultimately, this process resulted in some altogether new, hybrid forms of art and crafts in India, which, while they were undoubtedly Chinese in origin and inspiration, nevertheless have become an enduring part of the Indian cultural tradition.
In his erudite comments and observations, Amb. Ranganathan threw in considerable insight through his knowledge of Chinese and through his own experience as India’s Ambassador to China.
The Q & A session after the talk was informative and interesting.