Blog posts about the art of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.

An Ancient Indus Die

A cubical die with 1 to 6 dots was found in rubble during excavations at Harappa. Many such dice were also found at Mohenjo-daro. John Marshall writes: "That dicing was a common game at Mohenjo-daro is proved by the number of pieces that have been found. In all cases they are made of pottery and are usually cubical, ranging in size from 1.2 by 1.2 by 1.2 inches to 1.5 by 1.5 by 15 inches. . .. The dice of Mohenjo-daro are not marked in the same way as to-day, i.e. so that the sum of the points on any two opposite sides amounts to seven.

Lady of the Spiked Throne Figurines

The terracotta model from the left side.
An exceptional and controversial recent find in a private collection is analyzed by a leading Italian archaeologist in a fully illustrated complete online volume with possible implications for understanding ancient Indus culture. Massimo Vidale writes: "In Autumn 2009, I was invited by a private collector to see an artefact that was mentioned as unique and very complex, and reportedly belonged to the cultural sphere of the Indus civilization.

Satyajit Ray and The Unicorn Expedition

"I saw a herd of unicorns today. I write this in full possession of my senses." So begins the short story The Unicorn Expedition by the great Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. A Professor Shanku story from the early 1960s, one of a series which reflect "my love of [Jules] Verne and [H.G.] Wells and [Sir Arthur] Conan Doyle whose works I read as a schoolboy," wrote Ray. Like anything by him, it is charming and effortless and rich and rich and starts in Mohenjo-daro.

Anthropomorphized Tigers in Harappa

In the center is miniature mask of horned deity with human face and bared teeth of a tiger. A large mustache or divided upper lip frames the canines, and a flaring beard adds to the effect of rage. The eyes are defined as raised lumps that may have originally been painted. Short feline ears contrast with two short horns similar to a bull rather than the curving water buffalo horns. Two holes on either side allow the mask to be attached to a puppet or worn as an amulet.
Indus Tigers found at Harappa in recent years, often anthropomorphized. "The most dangerous animals living in the vicinity of the Indus cities were tigers and leopards. The leopard is rarely depicted but some figurines have spotted faces that may indicate the elusive markings of this elusive cat. Both of these large predators would have been a serious threat to human life and domestic animals. Before the introduction of firearms, these animals were usually killed in traps or with poisoned arrows.

Molded Tablets from Trench 11

Molded tablets from Trench 11 at Harappa sometimes have impressions on one, two, three or four sides. This group of molded tablets shows the complete set of motifs. One side is comprised entirely of script and has six characters, the first of which (on the very top) appears to be some sort of animal. A second side shows a human figure grappling with a short horned bull. A small plant with at least six branches is discernible behind the individual. The third panel portrays a figure seated on a charpoy or throne in a yogic position, with arms resting on the knees.