Two exhibitions related to Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore: a Philatelic Exhibition on Tagoreand and Tagore in Kantha were inaugurated in a grand function at El Bab Gallery at the Opera House Complex on 5 July.
The exhibitions, part ofthe yearlong celebrations to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagoreand, were organized by the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) and Embassy of India, Cairo, in cooperation withthe Foreign Cultural Relations Sectorand the Fine Arts Sector ofthe Egyptian Ministry of Culture.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was Asia’s first Nobel laureate. He wonthe Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore was a master of several literary forms – he was a poet, novelist, short story writerand playwright. His contributions reshaped Bengali literatureand music inthe late 19thand early 20th centuries. Tagore is perhapsthe world’s only writer whose compositions have been adopted asthe national anthems of two countries: Indiaand Bangladesh. Atthe age of 60, Tagore also became a celebrated painter. Tagore was also a pioneer in education (the honorific, Gurudev, means teacher) and promoter of rural reconstruction. He set up the Santiniketan school and later a world-famous university, Visva Bharati in West Bengal, India, as well as a centre for promotion of traditional artsand crafts in Sriniketan. A national leaderand an internationalist, Tagore visited many countries during his life including Egypt in 1925.
The Philatelic Exhibition on Tagore consists of 20 panels of commemorative stampsand other rare objects issued bythe postal departments of around 20 countries on Rabindranath Tagore. Some ofthese items, belonging to private collectors in India, are more than a century old. Sekhar Chakrabarti, one of three Indian collectors whose collections are on display, is here in Cairo ascurator ofthe stamp exhibition. The Tagore in Kantha exhibition includes 13 panels of traditional, kantha style embroidery work illustrating Tagore’s short stories, songs, poems, dance dramas. Kantha embroidery, practiced to this day by rural women in West Bengal, Indiaand Bangladesh, uses a “running stitch” to create beautiful motifs on fabric. The style was originally used by Bengali women to make quilts from old, worn out saris.The kantha exhibition was conceived by Shamlu Dudeja, who has worked for over 25 years setting up NGOs for the revival of kantha work in West Bengal.
The two exhibitions are sponsored bythe Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhiand were organised by ICCR’s Rabindranath Tagore Centre in Kolkata.
This is the first time the exhibits have travelled out of India.The exhibitions will run until 17 July at the El Bab Gallery, Cairo Opera House Grounds.