Clarifying Ripley: Red/Green Rangoli Artwork

It’s been a while since I made a Clarifying Ripley post, but this one really struck me. I initially tried looking it up myself just out of curiosity — but had a pretty tough time of it!

The syndicated panel, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”, often found in American newspaper comic strip sections, (the particular panel in question, here), is generally regarded among many Americans to be mixed with the true and the untrue. After researching several of the more questionable items myself, personally, I’ve fallen into the impression that all of them are true.

In the day’s panel above for February-20-2001, a gentleman led a team of other university associates to create a large rangoli sand artwork, that under different lighting conditions (of red and green lights, separately) revealed different illustrations. Having looked up several of them, I knew the illustrations that Ripley’s are usually based on actual photographs — so I set out to look up that original photograph the artist made their sketch from, without success.

It wasn’t until I tried Facebook, to look up the gentleman’s name and sent the fellow a friend request asking if he was that person.. Bingo. Surendra Kumar Verda, an student in his final year of undergraduate studies at IIT Kharagpur, India, accepted and offered a link to the photo in question —


— which even includes a YouTube video of the red-to-green transition. I guess we can count this one confirmed, also! It was a good opportunity to learn about Rangoli Artwork in general — a luck-bringing, spirit-welcoming, folk art tradition of many families in the region of India made by carefully and finely pouring colored sand or chalk down into a pattern. For more details, consider checking out Rangoli World for all the juicy details about the practice.

At one point in the video, a person’s silhouette passes the camera and gives a better idea of just how large the piece is — 294 square feet, containing 117,390 pixels.

If you skip ahead to around 2:50, the light changes to red (finally ;-D)..

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