Amid the row over the alleged distortions in the sculpture of national emblem that has been placed on the new Parliament building, one of the two artists who was commissioned the task to sculpt the Sarnath original in bronze, Sunil Deore, told The Indian Express that the perceived difference in the lions’ expression is due to the angle of the view and dimensions. “If you look at the Sarnath ‘Lion Capital’ from below, it will look the same as the Parliament emblem does,” he said.
“It is only due to the scale and dimensions that they look different…there is no other factor,” said the 49-year-old artist, who had earlier created replicas of Ajanta and Ellora caves. He further said, “I did not receive the contract (for sculpting) from the government. I was given the contract by Tata Project Limited (the company hired for the construction of the building) where I had applied and there was a shortlisting process.”
Veteran archaeologist BR Mani, former ADG of the Archaeological Survey of India, said, “The pillar at Sarnath 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 the view makes it look different.”
The National Emblem is an adaptation of ‘Lion Capital’ atop the Ashoka Column at Sarnath. It has four Asiatic lions, depicting power, courage, pride and confidence, seated on a circular base.
After Independence, the task of adapting the emblem from Ashoka’s pillar was given to Nandalal Bose, then principal of Kala Bhavan’s fine arts department at Visva-Bharati in Bengal. He chose his student Dinanath Bhargava, 21, to make a 3D illustration, which adorned the opening page of the handwritten Constitution.