M3 Features

A slice of Tagore in Hungarian art

January 28, 2014

A textile artist from Hungary brought ‘sacred gates’ of Transylvania to exhibit at Victoria Memorial Hall. Titled ‘Gates of Csoma’, the exhibition by eminent Hungarian artist Anna Kubinyi, among other things, comprised three of these towering ‘gates’, woven by hand in rustic hemp and jute.

Dr Janos Martonyi, foreign minister of Hungary, inaugurated the show on November 13, 2013. It ran till December 8.

The show was a tribute to two eminent personalities: first, Sandor Csoma de Koros (1784-1842), who served as a librarian of Asiatic Society in the 1830s and is better known as the Father of Tibetology, and second, Rabindranath Tagore, who went to Hungary in 1926 and is “remembered and respected by Hungarians to this day,” according to the artist.

“Csoma, a Hungarian like I am, was deeply interested in finding the roots of his countrymen. In Transylvania – where he was born, which once belonged to Hungary and was later annexed by Romania – people still build the gates represented in my works,” said Kubinyi. These gates are full of traditional Transylvanian motifs like flowers, trees, etc. “All these motifs are about positive energy and optimism in life. Passing through these gates is said to bring benefit. These symbols and gates are a part of Transylvania’s identity,” said Kubinyi. The exhibition has a number of these motifs done in vibrant colours in jute and hemp.

'Morning Meditation', depicting Tagore (L) and a Szekely gate (R) by Anna Kubinyi

“Csoma was an intellectual pilgrim who came to work in Calcutta in 1830 after covering a long foot journey from Transylvania – crossing Constantinople, Baghdad, Leh, Srinagar and Delhi – by foot. He was the first person from Western world to systematically study Buddhism and compile the first Tibetan to English dictionary,” said Victoria Memorial Hall secretary and curator Jayanta Sengupta.

The original script of the dictionary is still preserved at Asiatic Society, in a room where the Indologist stayed in while in Kolkata.

Sandor Csoma de Koros

Csoma was interested in the origins of Hungarians and the search brought him to Kolkata and Darjeeling (where he died while working due to malaria).

On the other hand, it was the search for the good things of the West, which took Tagore to Hungary and praise them in his writings. Like Csoma, Tagore also spoke about universal links among humans around the world.

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