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Artistic Richness of the Indian Constitution: A Visual Journey

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indian Constitution and its drafting

Mains level : Read the attached story

Constitution

Introduction

  • The Indian Constitution, renowned as the world’s lengthiest written Constitution, is not just a legal document but a treasure trove of artistic richness.
  • It features intricate hand-painted images and elaborate borders across all its 22 parts, making it the most visually appealing Constitution globally.

Narrative Scheme of Paintings

  • Historical Representation: The paintings within the Constitution depict various periods in Indian history, from the Indus Valley civilization to the freedom struggle. Additionally, scenes from the epic tales of Ramayana and Mahabharata are featured.
  • Geographical Diversity: These illustrations also capture India’s diverse geography, from the desert with marching camels to the grandeur of the Himalayas.

The Appointment of Artists

  • Selection of Nandalal Bose: Nandalal Bose, a renowned artist and close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, was entrusted with the task of illustrating the Constitution in October 1949, just before the final session of the Constituent Assembly.
  • Collaborative Effort: Bose collaborated with family members, students, and fellow artists, including Kripal Singh Shekhawat, A Perumal, and Direndrakrishna Deb Burman.
  • Calligraphy: While the Constitution itself was handwritten by calligrapher Prem Behari Narain Raizada in a flowing italic style, the Hindi version’s calligraphy was masterfully crafted by Vasant Krishan Vaidya.

Notable Artistic Contributions

  • Preamble and National Emblem: The Preamble page features intricate patterns sketched by Beohar Rammanohar Sinha and bears his signature, while Dinanath Bhargava sketched the National Emblem, the Lion Capital of Ashoka.
  • Payment for Artists: Records suggest that the artists who painted the historical scenes were paid Rs 25 for each page.

Ideation of Artwork

  • No Direct Correlation: Nandalal Bose’s artwork in the Constitution does not have a direct correlation with the text, as he did not illustrate the content of the Constitution itself. Instead, he crafted a visual narrative of India’s history as he envisioned it.
  • Changes and Adjustments: A preliminary plan was drawn up for the artwork, which underwent changes with additions and deletions. For instance, a scene featuring ‘portraits of Akbar and Shahjahan with Mughal architecture’ was replaced with an image of Akbar.

Borrowing from History and Religion

  • Diverse Representations: The artwork includes depictions of the Bull Seal from the Indus Valley region, scenes from the lives of hermits and ascetics, Buddha in meditation, Mahavir, sculptures from Mahabalipuram, and the descent of the Ganga to Earth.
  • Incorporating Epics: Scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana are featured in the artwork, symbolizing India’s rich mythological heritage.
  • Homage to Tagore: Three landscapes within the Constitution pay tribute to Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and his composition of the National Anthem, celebrating India’s diverse geographical landscapes.

Celebrating Monarchs and Freedom Fighters

  • Emperor Ashoka: Part VII features Emperor Ashoka seated on an elephant, propagating Buddhism.
  • King Vikramaditya and Tipu Sultan: Part IX showcases a scene from King Vikramaditya’s court, while Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi shares the page with Tipu Sultan in Part XVI.
  • Gandhi and Freedom Fighters: Mahatma Gandhi appears twice, leading the Dandi March and visiting Noakhali in Bangladesh. Subhas Chandra Bose is depicted saluting the flag with members of the Azad Hind Fauj.

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