Art con­tro­versy

Sub­way mu­ral crit­i­cized by Xi’an com­muters de­fended

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By XU WEI in Bei­jing and HUO YAN in Xi’an Con­tact the writer at xuwei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The op­er­a­tor of Xi’an’s sub­way sys­tem has de­fended a con­tro­ver­sial mu­ral of an an­cient monk that com­muters have crit­i­cized as his­tor­i­cally in­ac­cu­rate.

The wall paint­ing, which de­picts Xuan­zang, a monk from the Tang Dy­nasty (618907), vis­it­ing the Taj Ma­hal, is only a work of art that high­lights the cul­tural links be­tween China and India, ac­cord­ing to Xi’an Metro Co.

Lo­tus Tem­ple in Delhi, com­pleted in 1986, also ap­pears, the com­pany said in a state­ment, adding, “The use of two sym­bolic el­e­ments of dif­fer­ent times show­case the change and de­vel­op­ment of In­dian cul­ture.”

A se­nior em­ployee with the sub­way op­er­a­tor, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied, said on Thurs­day that there was no plan to change or re­move the mu­ral, which is at Dayanta Metro Sta­tion on Line 3. No mis­take was made, he added.

The paint­ing sparked de­bate on so­cial me­dia, as ne­ti­zens said that the con­struc­tion of the Taj Ma­hal is not from the time when Xuan­zang, a key fig­ure in Chi­nese Bud­dhism who set off on an ar­du­ous trip to India, stud­ied there for 17 years, then brought back many Bud­dhist su­tras and trans­lated them into Chi­nese dur­ing the early Tang Dy­nasty.

The Taj Ma­hal, built in Agra be­tween 1631 and 1648 dur­ing the Mughal Em­pire, is reck­oned by the UNESCO World Her­itage Cen­tre to be the “jewel of Mus­lim art in India and one of the uni­ver­sally ad­mired mas­ter­pieces of the world’s her­itage”.

“The Mughal Em­pire at that time was an Is­lamic state. So did Xuan­zang go to India to study the Qu­ran?” Xi Wuyi, a pro­fes­sor of Marx­ism stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, wrote on Sina Weibo. The post was re­posted close to 2,000 times.

Mei Xinyu, a news­pa­per colum­nist, also di­rected a jab at the Xi’an Metro for the seem­ing his­toric in­ac­cu­racy, say­ing that it could stain the city’s im­age.

Yu Yingquan, a Xi’an res­i­dent who lives near the Dayanta Metro Sta­tion, said she does not be­lieve that art has to be 100 per­cent ac­cu­rate. “In the process of artis­tic cre­ation, each el­e­ment can be flex­i­ble,” she said.

Wall paint­ings in other sub­way sta­tions in Xi’an, the cap­i­tal of Shaanxi prov­ince, also re­ceived crit­i­cism as some res­i­dents said they have wrongly mapped out the ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tions of some cities in the world, lo­cal me­dia re­ported.

HUO YAN / CHINA DAILY

Passengers look at a paint­ing de­pict­ing the Dayan pagoda and India’s Taj Ma­hal at Dayanta Metro Sta­tion in Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince, on Thurs­day.

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