National Emblem Row: Dimensions, viewing angle, make emblem look different, depending on sculptor

Amid the row over alleged distortions of the national emblem sculpture which has been placed on the new Parliament building, one of the two artists who was commissioned to sculpt the Sarnath original in bronze, Sunil Deore , told the Indian Express that the perceived difference in the lions’ expression is due to viewing angle and dimensions. “If you look at the ‘lion capital’ of Sarnath from below, it will look like the emblem of Parliament,” he said.

“It’s only because of scale and dimensions that they seem different…there’s no other factor,” said the 49-year-old artist, who previously created replicas of the Ajanta and Ellora caves. He added, “I didn’t get the contract (for the sculpture) from the government. I received the contract from Tata Project Limited (the company contracted to construct the building) where I had applied and there was a pre-selection process.

Veteran archaeologist BR Mani, former ADG of the Archaeological Survey of India, said: “The Sarnath Pillar was created 2,300 years ago by the best Indian and Iranian sculptors of the time. It was carved in stone, by hand. This one is cast in metal. The angle of view makes it different.

The national emblem is an adaptation of “Lion Capital” atop the Ashoka Column in Sarnath. It has four Asiatic lions, representing power, courage, pride and confidence, seated on a circular base.

After independence, the task of adapting the Pillar of Ashoka emblem was given to Nandalal Bose, then head of the fine arts department of Kala Bhavan at Visva-Bharati in Bengal. He chose his student Dinanath Bhargava, 21, to make a 3D illustration, which adorned the first page of the handwritten Constitution.

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