unicorn

25. Unicorn Seal, Mohenjo-daro.
Large square unicorn seal (25.) with perforated boss on the back (26). The unicorn is the most common motif on Indus seals and appears to represent a mythical animal that Greek and Roman sources trace back to the Indian subcontinent.

A relatively long inscription of eight symbols runs along the top of the seal. The elongated body and slender arching neck is typical of unicorn figurines, as are the tail with bushy end and the bovine hooves. This figure has a triple incised line depicting a pipal leaf shaped blanket or halter, while most unicorn figures have only a double incised line. The arching horn is depicted as if spiraling or ribbed, and the jowl is incised with multiple folds.

A collar or additional folds encircle the throat. In front of the unicorn is a ritual offering stand with droplets of water or sacred liquid along the bottom of the bowl. The top portion of the stand depicts a square grid or sieve, that actually may have been a circular cylinder.

Material: white fired glazed steatite
Dimensions: 5.08 x 5.08 cm
Mohenjo-daro, HR 743
National Museum, Karachi, NMP 50.192
Marshall 1931: pl. CIII, 8





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