Four Seals Up Close

A visit to the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi gave me the opportunity to take close shots of four seals from Mohenjo-daro. They show both the exquisite workmanship of Indus craftsmen and the merciless wear, in different degrees, of four thousand years of history, the vast majority of it beneath the ground after some indeterminate number of years of use. As small as these objects are, they would have been weighted with enormous significance for their owners.

Two are unicorn seals, one with a pipal motif above the creature’s body and atop what seems to be two-lined sign. The second unicorn, much more worn but still majestic, has its head thrust up, with its horn just touching a sign. A perfectly composed elephant, body glistening and legs parted as if in stride adorns a third seal. On the fourth, a rare tiger presses itself through the chipped surface, head held above what seems to be a feeding trough beneath. Has it just eaten?

Our mobile cameras are getting so good, that if one takes photographs – through glass, trying to avoiding light reflections – one can well have something well worth pondering later on.