Current Affairs - Art/Culture/Heritage
The city of Varanasi has been nominated as the first-ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital during the period 2022-2023 at the 22nd Meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 16, 2022.
- The nomination of Varanasi as the first ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital will promote tourism, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between India and the SCO member Countries. It also underlines India’s ancient civilizational links with Member States of SCO, especially the Central Asian Republics.
- Under the framework of this major cultural outreach program, a number of events will be hosted in Varanasi during 2022-23, for which guests will be invited to participate from SCO Member States. These events are expected to attract Indologists, scholars, authors, musicians and artists, photo journalists, travel bloggers and other invited guests.
- The regulations for nomination of the SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital were adopted at the Dushanbe SCO Summit in 2021 with an objective of promoting cooperation between the SCO Member States in the field of culture and tourism.
India’s Defence Minister recently visited Tran Quoc Pagoda, a revered Buddhist temple in Hanoi city of Vietnam.
- This pagoda is an example of age-old civilisational and people-to-people linkages between the two countries.
- On the grounds of Tran Quoc is a Bodhi tree taken as cutting of the original tree in Bodh Gaya, India under which the Buddha sat and achieved enlightenment. The gift was made in 1959, marking the visit of the Indian president Rajendra Prasad.
- In the Trấn Quốc pagoda they also worship female Buddhas, known as the "Mothers". Their shrines are in the front of the courtyard. The green Mother has domain over the mountains and forests. The white Mother has domain over the water. And lastly the red Mother has domain over the sky. These are some of the oldest gods or goddesses that have been worshiped in Vietnam and were in Vietnam before the Buddha.
During the recent ‘Quad’ Summit in Japan, Indian Prime Minister presented gifts that carry India’s rich cultural heritage.
Brief on the Artefacts Presented
Sanjhi Art for US President Joe Biden
- Sanjhi, the art of hand cutting designs on paper, is an art form from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. Traditionally motifs from Lord Krishna stories are created in stencils.
- The Sanjhi panel presented was based on the theme of Thakurani Ghat from Mathura.
Wooden Handcarved Box with Rogan Painting to Japanese PM Fumio Kishida
- This artwork is a combination of two different arts — Rogan painting and wooden handcarving.
- Rogan painting is an art of cloth printing practiced in the Kutch District of Gujarat. In this craft, paint made from boiled oil and vegetable dyes is laid down on fabric using either a metal block (printing) or a stylus (painting). The craft nearly died out in the late 20th century, with Rogan painting being practised by only one family.
- Handcarving on wood is an intricate art inspired by traditional jali designs taken from famous monuments of India.
Gond Art Painting for Australian PM Anthony Albanese
- Gond paintings are one of the most admired tribal art forms. The word ‘Gond’ comes from the expression ‘Kond’ which means ‘green mountain’.
- These paintings, created by dots and lines, have been a part of pictorial art on walls and floors of Gonds and it is done with the construction and re-construction of each and every house, with locally available natural colors and materials like charcoal, coloured soil, plant sap, leaves, cow dung, lime stone powder, etc.
Pattamadai Silk Mats for Former Japan PMs
- Pattamadai, a small village in Tirunelveli district, is home to a unique tradition of superfine silk mat weaving from ‘korai’ grass grown on the banks of river Tamiraparani.
- The mats are hand-woven using cotton or silk in the weft. Use of silk thread gives a royal sheen and definite appeal to the mat.
- The most unique aspect of a Pattamadai mat is how soft and flexible it is.
On the occasion of Buddha Purnima (16 May 2022), Union Minister of Tourism & Culture inaugurated various amenities at ancient Kanheri Caves.
About Kanheri Caves
- The Kanheri caves comprise of more than 110 different rock-cut monolithic excavations and one of the largest single excavations in the country.
- These excavations were primarily undertaken during the Hinayana phase of Buddhism but also have several examples of the Mahayana stylistic architecture as well as few printings of the Vajrayana order.
- Evidence from Inscription: The name Kanheri is derived from ‘Kanhagiri’ in Prakrit and occurs in the Nasik inscription of the Satavahana ruler Vasisthiputra Pulumavi.
- Travellers’ Account: Kanheri was mentioned in the travelogues of foreign travellers. The earliest reference of Kanheri is ascribed to Fa-Hein who visited India during 399-411 CE and later by several other travellers.
- Importance: Its importance is heightened by the fact that it is the only centre where a continuous progression of Buddhist faith and architecture is observed as an unbroken legacy right from 2nd century CE (cave no. 2 stupa) to 9th century CE are observed here.
- Patronage: Kanheri flourished under the patronage of Satavahana, Traikutakas, Vakatakas and Silaharas and through donations made by the wealthy merchants of the region.
Iron implements unearthed from excavations at Mayiladumparai in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district have revealed that the Iron Age in Tamil Nadu dates back 4,200 years, potentially making it the oldest in India, for now.
- Previously, the Iron Age burial site of Adichanallur in southern Tamil Nadu dated between 1000 BCE and 600 BCE.
- Of the 28 Accelerator Mass Spectrometry-based (AMS) dating of sites in India, this is the earliest. The 28 sites include sites in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
Interpretation of the Find
- Through the findings, it has been established that Tamils who lived 4200 years ago were aware of iron.
- Dense forests were converted into fertile lands only after humankind began realising the use of iron.
- This finding has answered questions relating to the start of agricultural activity in Tamil Nadu.
- The late Neolithic phase in Tamil Nadu has been identified to have begun before 2200 BCE, based on a cultural deposit of 25 cm below the dated level.
- Archaeologists also found that black and red ware pottery was introduced in the late Neolithic phase itself, rather than the widely held belief that this occurred in the Iron Age.