Celebrate People's History: Rani of Jhansi

Bishakh Som
GVSU Collection
2 Color Offset Printed Poster
August 2018
Artworks - Height: 17" Width: 11"
This is a poster of reds and pinks, blues and white. There is a woman with a sword and shield walking on a British flag. There are buildings behind her. On the left side of the image there is a lot of text on the left that reads: “The Rani of Jhansi was born in 1828 and her early education was unusual for girls at the time: wrestling, sword fighting, horseriding, and shooting. She was married to the Maharaja of the state of Jhansi in Northern India and given the name Laxmibai. She gave birth to a son in 185, but his death four months later was used as an excuse by the British East India Company to annex Jhansi, since there was no “legitimate” heir to the throne. In 1857, the Sepoy Mutiny erupted in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Prisoners and soldiers alike joined forces in revolt against the British. The rebellion spread, but did not fully take over Jhansi. In 1858, when the British sent troops with the aim of demanding full control of the state, the Rani refused to surrender. The British began a siege but Laxmibai bravely defended Jhansi. Despite mounting a strong resistance, Laxmibai was forced to flee to the kingdom of Gwalior on horseback, with her adopted son tied to her back. There she galvanized the rebel movement. The British attacked Gwalior and Laxmibai and her revels were forced to defend their land once again. Gwalior fell after three days of fighting, during which Laxmibai was mortally wounded. She died on the 18th of June, 1858. Though she did not succeed in freeing Jhansi from the yoke of British colonial oppression, Laxmibai fought against them with single-minded vigor and focus. She presaged the Indian independence movement to follow in the twentieth century, that led to the fall of the British Raj in 1947.”
Historical Context:
The Celebrate People’s History posters are rooted in the do-it-yourself tradition of mass-produced political propaganda. These posters embody democracy, inclusion, and group participation in the writing and interpretation of the past. Unlike most political posters, the posters part of the Celebrate People’s History series tell the stories of the underdogs, those individuals and groups helping to move forward the collective struggle of humanity to create a more just world. For 20 years, over 130 different posters have been displayed on the streets of over a dozen cities representing over 150 artists and writers. The Celebrate People’s History Poster Series has been organized and curated by Josh MacPhee since 1998.