The Constitution as an Illustrated History of India

Courtesy of Ms. Medhavi Gandhi and The Heritage Lab.

Preserved in a helium filled glass case in the Parliament Museum lies the original manuscript of the Constitution of India. Adorned by beautiful artwork that capture India’s rich civilizational history, the manuscript is unique in being the only illustrated Constitution in the world. At 90,000 words, it is also the world’s longest.

Endorsing the decision that the whole manuscript of the Constitution be hand written by Shri Prem Behari Narain Raizada in a flowing italic style, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru also proposed that the eminent artist Shri Nandalal Bose, famous for his “Indian style of painting” and known as the artist laureate of the country, illuminate the manuscript with distinctive illustrations that would encapsulate the timeless essence, diversity and unity of India.

Accordingly, Shri Bose’s carefully selected team of artists (including Biswarup, Gouri, Jamuna, Perumal, Kripal Singh and other students of Kala Bhavana) fashioned twenty-two images on the manuscript of the Indian Constitution, to depict a fragment of India’s vast historical and cultural heritage. Arranged chronologically, the illustrations were created using indigenous techniques of applying gold-leaf and stone colours.

It is believed that it took five years to create this elaborate piece of art. Once completed, the Constitution was published using the photo-lithography technique under the supervision of the Survey of India at Dehradun, India.

Details of the illustrations