Art

Blog posts about the art of the ancient Indus Valley 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.

A Deer from Lothal

"The Lothal craftsmen exhibited originality of thinking and great resourcefulness. As an example we may mention the new style of earthenware with animal motifs which are more realistic than those on the Indus valley pottery," writes excavator S.R. Rao.

Men of Harappa B

Male figurines are sometimes also identified by secondary sex characteristics such as beards. Occasionally, male figurines wear a headdress with two upward and/or outward projections like horns. Similar figures with horned headdresses are found in the iconography of seals, tablets, and pottery. It is possible that these represent composite figures with anthropomorphic and animal attributes or the appropriation of animal attributes in the form of a headdress. In addition to different postures, male figurines also exhibit a variety of hairstyles.

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.

Ancient Female Figures and Flower Headdresses

Figurine with flower headdress from Harappa and a reconstructed headdress in gold found with a serving girl found with Queen Puabi at the royal burials at Ur in Mesopotamia ca. 2600 BCE. Note the carnelian beads around her neck whose only source at the time was the ancient Indus civilization. More at the video lecture Meluhha: the Indus Civilization and Its Contacts with Mesopotamia by Dr. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer.

See also Harappan Female Figurine.

Spotted Dog Figurine from Chanhu-daro

Figurine of a cheeky spotted dog from Chanhu-daro shows the personality Indus craftsmen could imbue a 7 cm sized figurine with. From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston collection based on the 1935 US-led excavations at Chanhu-daro, Sindh. More at Museum of Fine Arts (Boston).

For more painted animals and Chanhu-daro craftsmanship, see also an Intricately Painted Jar featuring a peacock motif.

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