Art

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

Fuchsite Drinking Glass

A drinking glass with finely polished exterior surface and sparkling internal crystal facet.
Mark Kenoyer writes: "One famous stone vessel found at Mohenjo-daro is a tall glass with concave sides that is similar in shape to ritual columns found in Balochistan and Afghanistan. This green stone, called fuchsite, is rare, but it can occur with quartzite which is common throughout Balochistan and Afghanistan. When this fuchsite vessel was first examined by a geologist in the 1930's, the only know source was Mysore State, over 1600 km south of the Indus Valley.

Painted Burial Pottery

The rounded base was originally supported in a ring stand. The black painted geometric designs are arranged in panels with a red slip as background. After initial firing, the entire painted design was obliterated with a red slip and fired again at a low temperature that turned the exterior layer of the slip red through oxidation, but the inner layer remained gray. This overslip was not well bonded to the previously slipped surface and was partially eroded when first discovered.

Miniature Mask from Mohenjo-daro

Miniature mask from Mohenjo-daro of bearded horned deity. The face is made from a mold and thumb impressions from pressing the clay are visible on the back. The mouth is somber and the long almond shaped eyes are open. The short horns arch from the top of the forehead and two long ears lay against the horns. Two holes on either side allow the mask to be attached to a puppet or worn as an amulet. 5.3 x 3.5 cm. See also Ritual Mask.

Composite Tubular Gold Bead

This artifact was found on Mound AB at Harappa in 2000.
A composite tubular gold bead found on Mound AB at Harappa in 2000. Greenish corroded copper-alloy from an interior wire covers part of the gold bead. "Gold was easily obtained from the sands of the upper Indus river where it is still panned by itinerant miners. Another source of gold was along the Oxus river in northern Afghanistan where a trading colony of the Indus cities has been discovered at Shortughai. Situated far from the Indus Valley itself, this settlement may have been established to obtain gold, copper, tin and lapis lazuli, as well as other exotic goods from Central Asia," (J.M.

Harappan Feline Figurine

An Indus feline figurine from Harappa. Among the dangerous wild animals represented in the figurine corpus are large wild felines. This feline figurine with punctuate designs on the face (possibly representing spots) and an open mouth showing teeth is a relatively naturalistic representation of a large wild cat, possibly representing a leopard or a cheetah. Approximate dimensions (W x H(L) x D): 4.6 x 11.5 x 6.2 cm. Photograph by Richard H. Meadow. For another feline face, see also Ritual Mask or Amulet.

Painted Harappan Dish

A painted dish of a pedestaled vessel from Harappa found in 1993. The painted design includes two peacocks and a sacred tree. Mark Kenoyer writes: "Painted dish portion from a dish-on-stand. The black-on-red painted decoration is arranged in panels that are divided into four sections. Two peacocks are depicted on one side, and a many-branched tree with short leaves is painted on the opposite panel section. Between these two motifs are multiple lines of loops with circle-and-dot designs and hatching which totally fill all of the empty space.

Horned Figure Copper Tablet

An incised copper tablet from Mohenjo-daro showing a figure with large horns.
The large horns could represent the power or virility of the animal; whoever wore the horns would possess similar attributes. According to J.M. Kenoyer, they may depict powerful hunters, shamans or even some form of water buffalo or cattle deity. Asko Parpola writes "a male deity having similar long eyes and bulls horns, but a goat's beard in addition, is known from several terracotta masks and terracotta statuettes" (Indus Script, p. 234). See also Deity Strangling Tigers Tablet and Parpola's essay Deciphering the Indus Script.

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