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The prose of things

The history of publishing has been shown through the ancient Chinese scriptures and wooden printing blocks.

Written by Pooja Khati | New Delhi | Updated: January 14, 2016 12:33 am
China is the Guest of Honour at the book fair this year Prem Nath Pandey China is the Guest of Honour at the book fair this year Prem Nath Pandey

If books have a life of their own, at the New Delhi World Book Fair 2016 it is life that comes to the fore. In its 24th edition, at Pragati Maidan, the fair hosts China as Guest of Honour. In the maze-like stall, visitors get a grasp of early Chinese printing techniques, and the origin and evolution of Chinese letters. The history of publishing has been shown through the ancient Chinese scriptures and wooden printing blocks. You can also get your name written in calligraphy with the help of the artist present there. Besides a photo exhibition, which traces Indo-Chinese relations from ancient days to the present, there are on display various books from universities, illustrated books for children, and books on art and design.

The theme pavilion in the adjoining hall expands the India story with literature on art and culture from the north, northeast, south and west. In each section, there are references to popular tourist sites, along with artefacts such as palm-leaf manuscripts and framed photographs of objects like ink pots used in ancient south India. The theme “The Cultural Heritage of India” rings true even in the interactive audio files placed in lightboxes. And when all is done at the fair, stop to watch cultural performances, from Sufi music to Mohiniyattam and Mapila pattu at
the pavilion.

On Tuesday, at the Author’s Corner in Hall 6, two authors came together to discuss “Delhi – Old and New”. Moderated by well-known historian Narayani Gupta, RV Smith and Sumanta K Bhowmick shared stories from their respective books — Lingering Charm of Delhi: Myth, Lore and History and Princely Palaces in New Delhi. It was a discussion on Delhi’s past and present, organised by publishers Niyogi Books.

If the audience learnt about the origins of the phrase Dilli door ast from Smith, they also heard about the various princely addresses as well. “While the Hyderabad House is well-maintained, many such as the Travancore House is in disrepair. Recently, renovations have been done, both to the Bikaner House and the Cochin House. There are plans to work on the Bahawalpur House as well,” said Bhowmick. Gupta encouraged the audience to begin documenting the city as a way of writing history.

(Inputs by Shiny Varghese)

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