The Arrow Sign in the Indus Script  5

The Arrow Sign in the Indus Script 5

Unicorn Seal, Harappa
Before concluding, I may also draw attention to the possibility, as in other ideographic scripts, of a sign having both literal (pictorial) and transferred (phonetic) values in different contexts.

It appears that in the unique compound sign ARROW- BEARER, where the ARROW sign is placed at the top and has to be read first in accordance with normal convention, it seems to have a literal value ('bearer of arms' > 'guard'.). It is significant that a similar situation seems to exist also in respect of the closely parallel compound sign JAR-BEARER ('bearer of victuals'), though by itself the JAR sign functions as a grammatical morph.

Arrow Jar Fish
Arrow-Bearer Jar-Bearer Bearer

To sum up, the argument in the present paper is as follows:

  1. The arrow sign in the Indus Script represents pictorially an arrow, and functionally a grammatical morph, the non-masculine singular nominal suffix.
  2. Its phonetic value, derived by rebus, is *-(a)mp(u).
  3. It is added to non-masculine (feminine and neuter) singular nouns serving as names and titles.
  4. The possibility of a neuter noun occurring as a masculine name or title cannot be ruled out.
  5. In an exceptional case, the ARROW sign (in a compound sign) seems to have the literal pictorial value 'arrow' >'arms'.
  6. The determination of the functional and phonetic values of the ARROW sign leads to the recognition of the correct phonetic value of the JAR sign, the most frequent sign in the Indus Script.