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

Deity Strangling Tigers Tablet

Planoconvex molded tablet from Harappa showing a deity battling two tigers. "The thick jungles of the Indus Valley were full of tigers and leopards, so it is not surprising that the image of a ferocious feline is a recurring motif in ritual narratives on seals as well as molded tablets... The figure strangling the two tigers may represent a female, as a pronounced breast can be seen in profile.

Men of Harappa A

Most male figurines from Harappa sit with knees bent and arms at the sides of the legs or around the knees. Some of these figurines have facial features and even genitalia, and a few have stylized legs joined into a single projection.
Although there are fewer male than female figurines to be found at Indus sites, these terracotta males from Harappa give some sense of the principles underlying their representations. Shari Clark writes: "After many decades of research, the Indus Civilization is still something of an enigma -- an ancient civilization with a writing system that still awaits convincing decipherment, monumental architecture whose function still eludes us, no monumental art, a puzzling decline, and little evidence of the identity of its direct descendants.

Dancing Girl Figurine

Three views of Mohenjo-daro artifact
The dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro in three views, with close-ups of face, choker and bangles. John Marshall writes of this figure: "the arms and legs . . . are adorned with armlets, bangles, and anklets. These ornaments may sometimes have been made of metal, but in all probability the majority of them were shell. The custom of wearing so many shell bracelets as almost to conceal the whole of the forearm is very common in India at the present day." (Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization, 1931, p. 339).

Women of Harappa A

Photographs by Richard H. Meadow
Image A:Two female figurines nursing infants found at Harappa. The female figurine usually holds the infant's head to her breast with one or both arms encircling the infant. LEFT: The female figurine usually holds the infant's head to her breast with one or both arms encircling the infant. The infants being nursed by female figurines are usually very schematically represented by a bent and pinched roll of clay with or without applied eyes. RIGHT: The head, body, and legs of the infant are usually pressed against the female’s breast and torso with the legs dangling or gripping the female’s

Reconstruction of Faience Tablet Manufacturing

Fully and partially glazed faience tablets and other fired objects could be examined after the fire had cooled and the canister opened during experimental firings at the University of Madison, Wisconsin. The steatite molds were also included in the canister to see how they would be affected by this type of firing. For more on this experiment, see Reconstruction of Tablet Manufacture and Manufacturing Faience Tablets.