On Oct 2, more than 6000 participants (humans) are gathering to create the largest portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. Once created, how do we say this without bringing any ambiguity?

Gandhi's largest portrait was created by humans? (But then, only humans create/draw a portrait)

Human-made Gandhi's largest portrait in the world (But then, human made does not talk about what it is actually)

Humans shaped in Gandhi's portrait?

I'm clueless. What is the proper way to tell this?

3 Answers 3


You could use "made up of people". "X is made up of Y" is a way to show the material Y is used to create X.

  • 2
    It's Soylent Mandela!
    – Hellion
    Sep 30, 2014 at 15:42
  • @Hellion I though about referencing that, but I wasn't sure how far reaching Soylent Green was.
    – Tory
    Sep 30, 2014 at 15:51
  • It's a funny reference (to me, at least), but it really doesn't have the right connotations for the situation at hand anyway. :-)
    – Hellion
    Sep 30, 2014 at 15:52

You could say that people are coming together "to form the largest portrait...".

But a sentence or two explaining how that will happen (i.e. human pointillism) would be in order.

  • form or pose for
    – user6951
    Sep 30, 2014 at 20:47
  • 2
    Not "pose for". To "pose for a portrait" means that one's own likeness is being painted.
    – TimR
    Sep 30, 2014 at 21:44
  • Yes, it can have that meaning. But to pose in and of itself does not have to mean for a (self-)portrait. It can simply mean "to assume or hold a particular position.* So 6000 people could come together and pose (assume a position) for (for the purpose of) creating a living portrait.
    – user6951
    Sep 30, 2014 at 22:21
  • Although "to pose" might mean to hold a particular position, "to pose for a portrait" means to sit for the artist in order to have one's own portrait painted. That locution would be misleading here because these people are assembling, and their own individual features are not relevant.
    – TimR
    Oct 1, 2014 at 11:32
  • It might be that what these people are doing would fit a literal dictionary definition of "posing for a portrait", but if you said that a group of people are posing for a portrait, I don't think anyone would understand that to mean what is being described here without more explanation. It's the sort of statement you could use for a headline intended to be cryptic or amusing, and then explain what you mean.
    – Jay
    Oct 1, 2014 at 13:22

Do you mean that these people are going to stand in a way that each makes up one "dot" (pixel?) in the picture, and so when viewed from a height the 6000 people will form a portrait of Gandhi? If that's what you're trying to say, this is a rare enough idea that there's no single English word to describe it, you'd have to explain it with a sentence or two.

If you're trying to write a few words that would convey EITHER the idea of people drawing a portrait or of people's bodies making up the image, you could just say "human-made". Or you could leave out the word "human" completely and just say "the largest portrait of Gandhi ever made". As you say, we generally assume a portrait is made by humans unless otherwise specified. (If a monkey drew a portrait or we found a portrait on Mars made by aliens, you'd need to specify that.)

If you're writing a headline, headlines are expected to be brief. You could make the headline ambiguous and then explain in the body of the article. Like, "6000 people to form huge portrait of Gandhi", then explain in the article.

  • I mean what you said in the first paragraph.
    – Maulik V
    Oct 1, 2014 at 4:32
  • Then I'd say something like I said in that paragraph. I don't think you can express the idea clearly in less than a couple of sentences.
    – Jay
    Oct 1, 2014 at 13:23

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