Blog posts about the art of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.
The nautical historian Basil Greenhill makes an interesting point about why this boat style may have endured on the Indus: "As for the punts [long, narrow, flat-bottomed boats, square at both ends and propelled with a long pole, used on inland waters chiefly for recreation], their silhouette bears perhaps some resemblance to that of the boat depicted in one of the two scribings of boats found at Moenjo Daro, the Indus civilization site which lies on the west side of the river roughly in the center of the long stretch of the Indus on which these boats are to be found today.
Movable head of a bovine figurine from Harappa. Some movable figurine heads are pierced through the horns on either side of the head. The movable heads of figurines often depict cattle. They are usually pierced laterally through the neck and vertically or sagittally through the head in order to secure them to the bodies and control them with a cord. Also a toy cart from Nausharo, a bird whistle and a complete ox or water buffalo cart with figurine.
One side of a planoconvex molded tablet found in 1995 in Mound ET at Harappa. Mark Kenoyer writes about his narrative scene depicting the killing of a water buffalo: "A person, possibly a man, with hair tied in a bun on the back of the head, impales a water buffalo with a barbed spear. The hunter's foot presses down on the water buffalo's head as he thrusts the spear into its shoulder. In Later Hindu rituals, the water buffalo sacrifice is associated with the worship of the goddess Durga, but on this seal the sacrifice takes place in the presence of a priest or deity seated in yogic position.
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.
The first Indus women surfaced in the Illustrated London News on September 20, 1924. John Marshall was announcing the discovery of a civilization in India far earlier than Western archaeologists had surmised and these Harappan figurines were earlier than any others. Similar figurines from more recent discoveries at Harappa are also shown below, with captions. These are typical of female figurines from Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Why do you think there might be so many more female than male figurines?
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.
It might be nice to step into the new year with the figure of a dancer, for dancing is something - there is every indication from the dancing girl to this - that the ancient Indus people took very seriously.
Humped bull figurine from Mohenjo-daro with molded head that is twisted to the side, and a mold used to make the head. The legs were made separated rather than being joined together. Hand formed body and attached head. Eyes are carved with appliqué pupils as on the large hollow bull figurines.
Material (Figurine and mold): terra cotta.
Figurine – Dimensions: 5.23 cm height, 8.59 cm length, 2.92 cm width Mohenjo-daro, MD 832. Mold – Dimensions: 4.4 cm height, 3.7 cm length, 3.2 cm width. Mohenjo-daro, MD 1634.
See also Seal with Two-Horned Zebu Bull.
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.