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Rig Veda, 'Magna Carta' to be exhibited at G20 summit

By Kunal Dutt
September 02, 2023 11:26 IST
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Manuscripts of the Rig Veda from India, a rare copy of the Magna Carta from the United Kingdom and an anamorphic digital image of Mona Lisa from France will be among the several artefacts to be exhibited at the 'Culture Corridor' coming up at the G20 Summit venue in New Delhi.

IMAGE: The redeveloped and illuminated G20 logos installed near Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI Photo

Certified original copies of the Charters of Freedom from the US, a fahua lidded jar from China and Panini's 'Ashtadhyayi' from India are some other items that will be part of the corridor.

The 'Culture Corridor - G20 Digital Museum' has been envisioned by the Ministry of Culture under India's presidency of the grouping, and this 'phygital' project will be unveiled at the Bharat Mandapam on September 9, coinciding with the opening of the summit.

"India's G20 presidency theme is 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakum' and with this international project, we are walking the talk that the world is one family, as we will display cultural objects from all 20 members and nine invited countries as part of this 'Culture Corridor', envisioned as a G20 legacy project, a 'museum in the making'," a source said.

The exhibition of artefacts -- in physical and digital formats -- will be done on the same floor level where the leaders' meetings will take place, and they will walk through this 'cultural corridor' while moving into and out of the summit room, official sources said.


As part of this one-of-a-kind project, conceptualised about six months ago, India had asked each G20 member and invited countries to make submissions under four categories -- one physical object of cultural significance, one "iconic cultural masterpiece" in digital format, high-resolution digital content depicting the intangible heritage, and natural heritage of each of the countries.

The physical objects have been loaned for the project for a limited period, and these will be returned later, the source said.

As an exhibition themed on 'Mother of Democracy' is being also hosted at the Bharat Mandapam to mark the summit, a fifth segment was added to the 'Culture Corridor' project, in which an "ancient artefact related to democratic practices", in physical or digital format, was also sought from these countries.

China has made "beautiful submissions" in the first four categories, but in the fifth category, "no artefact has been been received so far from it", another source said.

Physical artefacts have arrived in India and are currently being stored at a place in New Delhi and over the next few days, these will be displayed at the Bharat Mandapam in time for the summit, the sources said.

They added that after the summit, this exhibition will be opened for the public, but the timeline for that and whether it will be ticketed or not, "we will only get to know in due course of time".

In the object of cultural significance category, India has offered to put on display Panini's 'Ashtadhyayi', the ancient grammar text sourced from the Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri National Sanskrit University, Delhi, while in the artefact related to democratic practices category, the Rig Veda manuscript will be displayed.

"Rig Veda manuscript has been sourced from the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, and it will displayed in all its glory in a case. The shloka that talks about humanity to come together will be shown," a person familiar with the project said.

In the iconic cultural masterpiece category, Bhimbhetka cave paintings in Madhya Pradesh, dating back to approximately 30,000 years, will be displayed in digital format from India's side.

An archaeological treasure, Bhimbetka has around 243 rock shelters and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Among physical object submissions, the UK has sent a copy of the Magna Carta of 1215, South Africa has sent a fossil skull, nicknamed 'Mrs Ples'.

Found at the Sterkfontein Caves at the Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg, it was first revealed to the world in April 1947 by Dr Robert Broom of the Transvaal Museum of Natural History (now the Ditsong Museum in Pretoria). At about two million years old, she became an instant celebrity and remains so today, according to the South African Tourism website.

Italy has submitted a statue of 'Belvedere Apollo' while China has offered a fahua lidded jar, the sources said.

In the artefact related to democratic practices, the US is sharing "original copies of the Charters of Freedom" certified by the American government, they said.

The Charters of Freedom refer to three historic 18th century documents of the US -- the United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

In the iconic cultural masterpiece category, China has submitted a digital version of a rhinoceros-shaped wine jar dating to Qing dynasty era, which also bears the emblem of a royal court, people familiar with the project said.

From France, Mona Lisa, the 16th century masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci which is hung at the Louvre Museum in Paris, will be displayed in a "anamorphic digital format".

"An anamorphic form means, the viewer will see the art in a 3D form with a visual depth, as if one is watching it in a museum space," another source told PTI.

"Girl With a Pearl Earring", the famed 17th century oil painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, which is kept at a museum in the Netherlands, will also be displayed in an anamorphic form.

The G20, or Group of 20, is an intergovernmental forum of the world's major developed and developing economies. India currently holds the rotating presidency of the multinational group.

G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkiye, the UK and the US, as well as the European Union (EU).

The guest countries are -- Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the UAE.

In the intangible heritage category, India's submission is -- Yoga, Kumbh Mela, Vedic Chanting, lost wax tradition of bronze casting and double ikkat weaving Patan Patola of Gujarat.

In the natural heritage category, India's submission is -- the Himalayas, the Ganga, the India Ocean, the Living Root Bridge of Meghalaya, and the Royal Bengal Tiger.

"The submissions in intangible heritage and natural heritage categories will be displayed through high-resolution images and videos," the source said.

The Grand Canyon in the US and the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands are among the submissions from other countries in the natural heritage category.

Traditional archery -- Turkiye; Jeju Haenyeo (women divers) -- Republic of Korea; and Bolshoi Ballet -- Russia are among the submissions from other countries in the intangible cultural heritage category.

Up to five submissions could be made in the intangible cultural heritage and natural heritage categories.

From Singapore, bottles of NEWater, produced by Singapore's Public Utilities Board by recycling treated used water into ultra-clean, high-grade reclaimed water, will be displayed.

In the exhibition area, 180-degree immersive screens will be installed. The exhibit will also showcase a 12-foot digital cube which will display the iconic masterpieces through anamorphic content.

After the G20 presidency period of India is over, "this project will have an afterlife, and it will preserved in a digital form in a portal, containing also digital images of the physical objects", a source said, adding, "and we will be happy to offer it ti countries assuming presidency subsequently".

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Kunal Dutt
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