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

Ornaments and Jewelry

Gold and agate ornaments includes objects found at both Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. At the top are fillets of finely burnished hammered gold that would have been worn around the forehead. Each end of the top fillet is decorated with a punctuated design depicting the ritual offering stand that is common on the unicorn seals. The third ornament from the top was probably worn with the center point at the top of the forehead and the sides curving down over the eyebrows. The hole at the center and on the ends were for holding a cord. The other ornaments include bangles, chokers, long pendant

Carnelian Beads

"Indus beadmakers have the distinction of producing the longest and most slender beads of carnelian in the world, prior to the advent of diamond drilling," (J.M. Kenoyer). Chanhu-daro has provided the most data about the manufacture of these long carnelian beads, seen here in a necklace or belt from Mohenjo-daro's DK Area. It could take weeks of intense labor to create one bead, some nearly 5 inches long, with much breakage along the way. See also Dorothy Mackay's article Finds at Chanhu-daro.

Steatite Disc Beads

This set of steatite disc beads found at Harappa, each about 1 cm in diameter, were found in a Kot Diji phase (ca. 2800-2600 BCE) street and appear to be a necklace segment that was lost in the trash. The manufacturing marks are clearly visible. The matched nature of the beads suggests that a preform of raw steatite was shaped, drilled with a copper tube, and subsequently sewn into segments.

An Ancient Indus Plate

Copper and bronze plates were probably used exclusively by wealthy upper class city dwellers.
Ancient Indus food, drink and cooking vessels would likely not be out of place in South Asia today, so familiar are the designs and materials A copper/bronze plate from Mohenjo-daro, terra cotta cooking pots from Nausharo (2200-2300 BCE), a stone (fuchsite) drinking vessel from Mohenjo-daro, and a copper/bronze cooking pot from Harappa.

Harappan Female Figurine

"The importance of females as symbols of religious power [in Indus Civilization] is supported by the fact that figurines of women or mother goddesses are more common than male figurines." (J.M. Kenoyer). Shown is a female figurine from Harappa with four flowers arranged on the front part of a fan shaped headdress with cups at two sides and braided edging. This figurine is adorned with a triple strand choker with pendant beads and a double strand necklace with central disc pendant. See also Women of Harappa.

Pipal Leaves: Revisited

The impressions of a pipal leaf found in the upper clay levels of a drain in Harappa, shown here with a modern pipal leaf, indicate that what many think was a sacred tree was growing in the ancient city of Harappa even at that time. A well at Mohenjo-daro, a sealing from the city and the pipal motif on a unicorn seal are other examples of this critical motif in Indus culture. See also Unicorn and Pipal Tree Seal.

Gender and the Indus People: An Unusual Male Figurine

An unusual male figurine found at Harappa with a fan shaped headdress and choker around the neck may be a representation of alternative gender in the ancient Indus civilization. These are usually characteristic of female figurines. For more on Masculinity, see also Men of Harappa A, Men of Harappa B and Nude Male Figurine. For more on Femininity, see Women of Harappa A and Women of Harappa B.