Friday, September 21, 2007

Evolution of music and dance in Japan through Indian history traced

This is an article that was featured in The Hindu last week marking a very interesting lecture by Inoue sensei. It seeks to showcase the ancient ties that the two cultures have enjoyed traditionally. Editor

Ancient connection: Takako Inoue, Professor, Faculty of International Relations in Daito Bunka University, Japan, delivering a lecture in Chennai on Monday.

CHENNAI: We have heard of Vedic chants and those who recite them for a living may have even heard their peers and teachers tell them to go slow to avoid mistakes. But in Japan, a group of Busan monks performs a fast chant from Buddhist scriptures and literally swings the huge copies of the scriptures like a fan. This entire exercise is called ‘quick chanting’.

Little wonder then that the gathering of largely Indian audience on Monday evening was delighted with the lecture delivered by Takako Inoue, Professor, Faculty of International Relations in Daito Bunka University, Japan. She spoke on the influence of Indian music on Japanese culture and traced the evolution of music and dance in Japan through Indian history as far back as 2 A.D.

Prof. Inoue said: “When Buddhism was adopted in Japan, several kinds of exotic performing arts were brought through China and Korea.” Though modified and transformed over the centuries, Indian elements, such as the notes and the tala, even a few musical instruments and depiction of a few characters in Indian dance dramas can still be found, she explained.

The Shomyo (the Buddhist chants and its name derived from sabda-vidya) is said to have originated from the Vedic Chants, she said, listing the various instruments found in the Ajanta panels and the Sanchi Stupa sculptures.

Gigaku, a dance drama form now extinct, used masks and showed distinct Indian characteristics such as the Brahman and Garuda. Answering questions from the audience, she regretted that the interest in researching the ancient art forms was limited to the government.

Japanese Consul General in Chennai Kazuo Minagawa said Prof. Inoue’s lecture was ninth in the series of 12 proposed for this year, marking the 50th anniversary of the Japan-India culture treaty. Prof. Inoue had earlier presented a lecture on ‘Indian ideas rooted in Japanese mind’ in May at Madras University.

Monday’s programme was organised by the Consulate and C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyar Foundation, whose director, Nanditha Krishna was present. Premeela Gurumurthy, head of Department of Indian Music, Madras University, and Yoshinori Yakabe, Japanese Consul (Culture, Information and Development Affairs) spoke.

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