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Visualising the Nation- CBSE Class 10 History

Last Updated : 02 Aug, 2023
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After the beginning of the French Revolution in the late eighteenth century, the idea of creating nation-states in place of existing monarchies spread like wildfire throughout the whole of Europe. It was only during the French Revolution that ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity, democracy, and basic human rights gained popularity and people started protesting in their own countries for creating an independent nation with basic human rights by uprooting existing monarchy or imperial power in their respective countries. 

visualizing the nation

Visualizing the nation

Visualizing the Nation

People could understand what kind of nation and governance they wanted but the basic question that they didn’t understand that what constitutes a nation, and to whom they would show their allegiance; whether it is about area, people, or culture. All these questions make the concept of a nation difficult for them to understand as the nation was an abstract idea rather than physical

Personifying the Nation

The European artist found the solution by personifying the nation as human, particularly as a female figure. These females didn’t depict any real-life females rather they just helped to understand the abstract idea of the nation in a concrete form that would generate a sense of respect, honor, and pride in the heart of common people for their nation. Hence these female figures became allegories of the nation.

Symbols Used for Nationalism

Symbols are visual images that contain meaning which can be understood even by laymen.  They were used significantly used to motivate people to unite people during the French Revolution and other revolutions between 1839-1848. Using symbols in physical form makes them easy to understand their nationalistic goals.

Symbols Significance
Broken Chains Being freed
Breastplate with eagle symbol of the German empire – strength
Crown of oak leaves heroism
Sword Readiness to fight
Olive branches around the leaves Willingness to make peace
Black, red, and gold tricolor

Flag of liberal nationalists in 1848, banned by

the Dukes of the German states 

Rays of the rising sun Beginning of the new era

Allegory

It refers to the way of expressing an abstract idea like freedom, justice, equality, etc. through a person or a thing. It has two meanings one is literal means actual and the second is symbolic.

Allegories Used in European Nations

Marianne

  • In France, the statue of a Christian female named Marianne was erected in public spots to visualize the nation. She wore the red cap, and the cockade and held the tricolor. 
  • Her characteristics were derived from liberty and republic. For example, the red cap symbolized liberty and the tricolor represented the French republic.
  • Marianne became a national symbol of unity and people came to identify with her. Her images could be found in coins and stamps of France.

Germania

  • Similarly in Germany, Germania was used as an allegory.  She was represented as a warlike lady. She wore a crown of oak leaves as the German oak represents heroism. 
  • She was holding a sword surrounded by olive branches which represented readiness for war. She was also holding the German tricolor.
  • In the years post-1871, she is shown holding a black, white, and red flag of the German Empire.

FAQs on Visualizing the Nation

Q 1. How did people visualize the nation?

Answer-

When there were revolutions, the artists represented the nation as a person and this personification gave life to a abstract concept like that of a nation.

Q 2. What is the nation?

Answer-

A nation refers to a community of people who are formed on the basis of commonality like language, territory etc.

Q 3. How allegories were used to visualize a nation?

Answer:

The way of visualizing a nation is by giving certain concreteness to an abstract idea in the form of a allegory.


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